Alumni Showcase: Meet with Therasinamurthie Perumal Govender

Getting to know DaVinci’s Doctoral alumnus, Therasinamurthie Perumal Govender from the class of 2021


Dr Therasinamurthie Perumal Govender, a seasoned and respected leader, is the current Managing Director at TEK-MATION Training Institute. Dr Govender, in a recent engagement, shared the tale of his remarkable journey…


Dr Therasinamurthie Perumal Govender -- Image: Supplied
(Dr Therasinamurthie Perumal Govender — Image: Supplied )


Please give us a brief overview of your career to date.

My name is TP Govender (otherwise known as Dave), a Managing Director at TEK-MATION Training Institute. My areas of specialisations are Process Automation and Control Engineering, Engineering Fabrication, Pulp and Paper Technology and Oil and Gas Processing. I have progressed through my career as an artisan, technician, and engineer from the factory floor to my present position. A call to academia was the next providential step for me and I spent the best part of eight years in the Department of Electronic Engineering at the Durban University of Technology. I have forged strong relationships with an extensive network of dynamic corporate sector role players such as MONDI Paper, ENGEN, SAPREF, ESKOM, SASOL, and UNILEVER, to name a few. I am a mentor and coach to numerous artisans, technicians, and engineers. I am involved with the CHIETA SETA and Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB) on skills training and trade test development. I am the Chairperson of the Advisory Board Department of Power Engineering at the Durban University of Technology. I am also a member of the professional bodies SAIEE and SAIMC.

In addition to the above, I am also involved in developing specific skills training programmes for the corporate sector. This includes the workplace skills plan, curriculum design, skills programmes, learning material and assessment guide development.


Your thesis is titled: “Addressing the Engineering Skills Shortage Problem in South Africa: Developing an Enhanced Artisan Skills Training and Development Strategy.” Please provide us with a blurb on the purpose of this research and its contribution.

I have been passionate about artisan skills training and development since my time spent as an apprentice. The fortunate thing was that I was able to move across disciplines, from mechanical engineering at the then Roberts Construction in Prospecton, KZN to light current engineering at SASOL II, Secunda, Mpumalanga quite easily. Being part of an international commissioning and start up team at SASOL II was indeed a major achievement. The training that I received at SASOL was indeed innovative and intense to say the least. I was part of a team of trainees who had the very privileged opportunity to be able to see the production of synthetic fuel from coal, first hand in 1980. The apprenticeship training system has certainly evolved constantly, and the present is no different but also confusing to outsiders and newcomers alike. Apprenticeship, learnership and Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning and short courses need to be unscrambled. Skilled and competent artisans are also an important human resource that our country needs to construct major industrial projects successfully. Herein lies the answer to our socio-economic problems of unemployment, crime, and general apathy.

Having outlined that background, the purpose of this research study is to afford present and future artisan the due recognition in both the academic and career development articulation pathways through the Hybrid Artisan Skills Training (HAST) and the Artisan Career Articulation (ACA) Frameworks. In fact, the study’s findings indicate a need for an alternate skills training framework to add value and enhance the South African artisan skills training.


In a few words, please describe your journey to completing your Doctoral qualification.

My Doctoral journey has truly been both a valley and a mountain top experience. There were some major setbacks that I encountered during this journey and was tempted to give up many times. I thank God for His divine intervention throughout this journey. He strengthened my faith and resolve to finish what I started. My wife, Jean and my children, Don, Sebastian and Nicolette and their respective families – were a tremendous source of encouragement to me.


What would you say your three greatest attributes or characteristics are as a person that aided you on your journey?

I believe that I have the will to persevere through difficulty and at the same time to patiently endure the path before me. My anchor has been my faith.


How did your journey impact your way of thinking and (or) life?

I learnt never to give up, and to pick myself up after every setback. Covid-19 was both an enemy and friend to me during this journey. I eventually was able to sit down for eighteen months and complete this research. There will always be setbacks in life, one needs to take a step back and make a comeback every time when encountering one.


What is next for you on your path of remarkability?

My desire is to mentor, assist and advise other Doctoral candidates as they start a journey of their own. I would also like to see the implementation of the HAST [Hybrid Artisan Skills Training] and ACA [Artisan Career Articulation] frameworks nationally. When time permits, I am desirous of publishing academic papers and writing articles.


If you could give advice to a student embarking on this journey, what would it be?

A Doctoral degree is a wonderful journey with many twists and turns and hills and valleys along the way but enjoy it. The journey is punishing and, at the same time, joyful when concluded. This has been a tremendously difficult journey for me, but I live by the mantra that there is no excellence without difficulty. Surround yourself with enabling people, and it is also good to have your supporters and family to encourage you on your journey.