Kusile Power Station, Mpumalanga, 28 June 2017: The marginalisation of young people in South Africa is primarily manifested in high youth unemployment – currently hovering at 50.9%. Now more than ever, youth targeted interventions are needed to enable young South Africans to actively participate and engage in society and the economy.
Skills development remains a top priority in the country and whilst the achievement of critical mass is desirable, quality in the form of sustainable projects that will offer long-term benefits to project recipients, as well as to society and the economy at large, are an important factor in addressing the country’s skills mismatch. A market gap exists to finding and appointing professional black youth owned (BYO) companies in the field of safety, health, environment, risk management and quality (SHERQ).
With this in mind, the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA), Eskom and Siemens have partnered to provide 15 black South African youth from the Nkangala District of Mpumalanga with comprehensive, accredited, academic, and work-based practical training in the professional field of SHERQ.
The project was launched at a function hosted on-site at Eskom’s Kusile Power Station in Mpumalanga on 28 June 2017.
Ten of the 15 youth will become equal partners in Kusile Leroo Consulting (Pty) Ltd., a for profit company that has been established through a Memorandum Of Understanding between Eskom Holdings Ltd., the HWSETA and Siemens (Pty) Ltd. This project will serve as the vehicle to train the BYO shareholders in Eskom and Siemens SHERQ methodologies, as well as afford the company opportunities to conduct reviews and audits on Eskom and Siemens permanent and project sites.
Kusile Leroo Consulting (Pty) Ltd. will become a company mentored and trained by industry stakeholders in power generation and distribution as well as achieve structured and fast-tracked skills development and transfers which would normally only be achieved in a 5-7 year working experience window.
The company will also receive Eskom and Siemens endorsements for projects successfully completed which, in turn, will give Kusile Leroo the market credentials to market itself as a professional company to other state owned or private companies in both upstream and downstream industries.
Rita Nkuhlu, Siemens executive director comments, “Siemens is proud to be a partner with Eskom and the Health and Welfare SETA in this project. We place great importance on the development of the youth of our country and this is a particularly important project, as young people have been empowered with skills to make a contribution in a niche market area.”
This sentiment is echoed by Mr Abram Masango, Eskom’s Group Executive for the Group Capital, but he adds: “Eskom takes full ownership of its role in making the lives of people better, but more than this we have an obligation to improve the lives of people within the communities we operate in.”
This thinking spearheads Eskom’s approach to sourcing both contract and full time employees, as well as products and services from the communities in which they operate. Eskom’s community-driven approach is clearly evident at both the Medupi and Kusile power stations.
In 2013, the Honourable Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande called on South African organisations, whether public or private, to open up their places of work as places of training for young people and the uptake to this call has been significant.
More recently, the Honourable Minister, urged players in the public and private sectors to join forces in the development and implementation of programmes that would result in our country’s youth receiving meaningful skills development support.
The Kusile Leroo project directly answers the call for organisations to open up their places of work as places of training. It is also a prime example of how public-private partnerships can directly impact skills development in the country. In fact, this partnership extends beyond being just a public-private partnership in that a parastatal has been added to the mix.
Refilwe Motau, Enterprise Development Manager at Eskom, who has been a driving force behind the project since inception, says: “As shareholders of the company, learners will receive opportunities to tender for SHERQ consulting services with Eskom and Siemens. They will also receive intensive training in business management and along with coaching and mentoring they will be on a good footing to start their business practice in especially undeveloped and rural areas.”
“This unique partnership provides the HWSETA with a pilot SHERQ project and we view this project as an important first step towards the support of Black Youth Owned companies in the professional subcontracting of environment, health and occupational safety,” comments Dr Confidence Moloko, Chairman of the HWSETA Board.
The remaining five learners selected to participate in this project will receive funding to cover their studies in SHERQ, and they too will receive work-based practical training in the professional field of SHERQ.
The sustainability of skills development initiatives is an important success factor. The HWSETA, Eskom and Siemens alike believe that this project will emerge as a legacy project and offer tangible long-term benefits to the learners involved, as well as to the niche SHERQ environment.