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Sailmaker and Upholsterer
A sailmaker and upholsterer uses canvas and PVC sheets to make or repair a variety of articles like tool bags, blinds, camping beds, tents, army webbing, sails, tarpaulins, garden chairs and sunvisors.

The sailmaker and upholsterer:
- cuts canvas and PVC sheets according to the patterns and stacks them;
- stitches the various pieces together by hand or machine;
- adds the necessary accessories like PVC windows, eyelets, ropes, zips, press studs and buckles for fastening;
- manufactures or repairs large items like tents, sails and tarpaulins;
- cuts and stitches material lining or stiffening into certain articles.

When articles are made with PVC sheeting only, modern apparatus is used to fuse the seams together.

Satisfying Aspects
- making things which enhance the comfort of people
- working in a team
- working with one's hands
- job security for semi-skilled workers

Demanding aspects
- limited job opportunities
- limited prospects for promotion
- working under supervision
- the tiring physical work involved

A sailmaker and upholsterer should:
- be willing to work hard;
- be creative and like making things;
- enjoy routine tasks;
- work in a team;
- have good eye-hand coordination;
- have manual dexterity to work with sewing machines;
- be healthy and strong to work with heavy machinery, canvas or PVC.

School Subjects
Grade 8 Certificate.

Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Consumer Studies

At sail factories a worker can receive in-service training.

A sailmaker can do a learnership of 4 years in the SA Navy in Durban or Simonstown.
The candidate need not to pass a trade test.

If you want to become a sailmaker and upholsterer you need to register with an employer. All costs of successful training are borne by the employer. Wage increases during the stages of learnership are dependent on the progress through the system as well as entry level. Entry levels are more practical than academic.

The Furniture Industry Training Board (FITB) enables the industry to provide comprehensive training to all its employees:
- Theoretical and practical training: Provided by professional trainers at one of the centres of the FITB. Progress depends on the ability to "do" rather that to "know".
- Duration of course: 2 to 4 years depending on the progress of the candidate in the modular system.
- Final examination: A compulsory trade test at the Centre of Trade Testing at Olifantsfontein as well as accredited training centres.

If you want to become a sailmaker and upholsterer you must:
- be at least 16 years old;
- undergo a selection test battery.

Changes in the training of artisans are subject to the official approval of the Registrar of Labour Training.
A new system of apprenticeship training will be introduced within the next few years. Each industry will make use of its own methods and time to implement the system.

- Canvas manufacturers
- Shipyards
- SA Navy
- SA Prisons Service
- Self-employed

South African Institute for Entrepreneurship
9 Upper Holly Street
Newlands, 7700
Tel: (021) 683 1850
Fax : (021) 674 3920

Small Business Development Corporation    
P O Box 7780
Johannesburg, 2000
Tel: (011)- 480-8700
Fax: (011)- 642-2791