Eskom, Transnet boost for technical skills

12 May 2011

State-owned companies Eskom and Transnet have several programmes under way to ensure that South Africa acquires the skills it needs to carry out its infrastructure investment programme, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba told Parliament in Cape Town last week.

Gigaba said the recently launched Eskom Academy of Learning would, together with partnerships with tertiary institutions and supplier networks, be used to train new recruits.

Knowledge transfer and training

The academy is focusing primarily on developing engineers, technologists, technicians and artisans and has faculties in engineering, artisan, services, project management, leadership and finance.

“In addition, commercial contracts have been entered into with suppliers on Eskom’s build programme with clauses that deal with knowledge transfer and training,” Gigaba said.

He pointed out that Eskom’s build programme alone would require on average 160 scientists, 2 145 engineers and 2 950 artisans per year over the next five years.

The electricity utility is currently training over 5 200 learners, 80% of whom are studying in the engineering and technical fields, and has also entered into a joint project with other state-owned enterprises to train an additional 1 500 trade persons per year by making use of underutilised training facilities in the sector.

Eskom’s aim is to constantly ensure that it has at least 2 500 artisan learners, which are replaced when the learners qualify every year. Usually about 1 200 learners qualify every year.

Additional funding required

On the other hand, logistics group Transnet is aiming to train 427 engineers and 1 412 artisans this year and a further 60 engineers and 500 artisans a year between 2012 and 2016, Gigaba said.

Transnet spends R144-million a year on engineering bursaries and a further R73-million on artisan training. Recipients of its bursaries are all placed in positions across the group’s operations.

“Although opportunities exist to grow the intake of artisans, this will require additional funding to upgrade facilities and ensure adequate resources,” Gigaba said, adding that preliminary estimates indicate that R212-million is needed to fund a further 1 000 trainees and R325-million for an additional 2 000 trainees.

He added that the Department of Public Enterprises and the Department of Higher Education and Training are together looking at ways to fund the additional trainees, as the National Skills Fund currently does not fund infrastructure investment.

Source: BuaNews