Transnet is fully owned by the South African government but operates as a corporate entity. It has five operating divisions: Transnet freight rail, Transnet rail engineering, Transnet national ports authority, Transnet port terminals, and Transnet pipelines. (Image: MediaClub.com)
Melissa Jane Cook
Over the centuries, the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World have inspired people with their engineering feats. They have motivated generations to create their own enormous structures that are both beautiful and functional.
But it is not all about inspiration; there is also a lot of hard work involved. The first step to constructing such ventures is a sound education in engineering. Transnet, which needs infrastructure for the smooth running of transport across the country, needs engineers. With this in mind, it offers bursaries in the engineering disciplines of civil, electrical (heavy current), electronics, mechanical, mechatronics, industrial, and metallurgy (physical).
The number of bursaries awarded by the enterprise each year is determined by the employment needs of Transnet and its capital investment programme, the Market Demand Strategy. Engineering students who receive Transnet bursaries are potential employees, depending on what vacancies are available in the parastatal once they have successfully completed their studies. In the financial year to March 2013, it continued to sponsor more than 300 students in their second, third and fourth years of study. It also awarded 122 full-time engineering bursaries to first-year students in various disciplines, compared to 60 in the previous financial year.
Skills development is an important pillar of Transnet’s R307-billion ($27-billion) Market Demand Strategy, which covers its investment in infrastructure. It places a specific emphasis on developing and training engineers, technicians and artisans. There are as many as 2 000 apprentices undergoing training at any given time.
“The company will spend R8.275-billion on training by 2018/19, including R4.7-billion on bursaries and grants,” says the group chief executive, Brian Molefe.
The parastatal is the largest and most crucial part of the freight logistics chain in the country, and is behind South Africa’s national transport businesses, including ports and rail. Transnet is fully owned by the South African government but operates as a corporate entity. It has five operating divisions: Transnet freight rail, Transnet rail engineering, Transnet national ports authority, Transnet port terminals, and Transnet pipelines.
In the financial year to March 2013, Transnet had 64 352 employees. The company has operations in all nine provinces. “The five operating divisions, supported by company-wide specialist functions, give meaning to our philosophy of ‘One Company, One Vision,'” Molefe says. “State-owned companies and major business have a responsibility to step forward, invest and create jobs.”
Matriculants who qualify for tertiary level studies in engineering are encouraged to apply for a bursary to study at a South African institution. Requirements include:
• Grade 12/matric;
• Pure mathematics with a minimum pass of 60%;
• Physical science with a minimum pass of 60%; and,
• Pre-entry medicals.
The bursary covers tuition fees, accommodation and meals, book allowance, a computer from second year if required, and on-the-job training. Applicants are screened based on their academic results at school or at tertiary level, as well as their medical fitness. This means that students who are in their second year onwards can also – and are encouraged to – apply.
Based on academic performance, candidates are then invited to an interview. Students awarded university bursaries are required to work for Transnet for the equal number of years they are sponsored. The bursary may be renewed annually, depending on the student’s academic performance.
Transnet also offers holiday work during the mid-year and end-of-year holidays. Those wanting to apply for a post during the holidays must indicate their preferred periods and cities. The parastatal also provides work integrated learning, or internships, to help students at universities of technology to complete the qualification requirements set by their respective training institutions.
These students who get internships may be considered for permanent employment if there are vacancies at the company when they qualify. The bursary scheme is an opportunity for students to study and be exposed to the work environment. The parastatal takes on more students that it requires, so that it contributes to the national pool of skilled people.
Applications for bursaries close on 31 July annually for the following year.