Furthering its social outreach, energy and chemicals company Sasol hosted its sixteenth flagship career exhibition, Sasol Techno X, which ran from August 16 to 19 at the Boiketlong Sports Centre, in Sasolburg.
Sasol Techno X has become the largest science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) career guidance exhibition in the country, and attracts more than 20 000 visitors from seven provinces every year.
Traditionally hosted in Sasol-burg, and now also biennially in Secunda, Sasol Techno X focuses on mathematics, science and technology and is a platform for learners from Grades 7 to 12 to engage with the real-world application of these subjects in a way that creates interest and captivates the imagination, says Sasol.
This year’s Sasol Techno X boasted two new features, as visitors were invited to enter the virtual reality of Sasol’s plants through three-dimensional technology and learners were exposed to a number of industrial artisan trades and existing training opportunities at the event’s skills centre.
Sasol highlighted the critical role that artisan skills played in many industries and in growing national and local economies. Sasol notes, for example, that it requires about 16 artisans for every one engineer that it employs. Increasing youth enrolment into technical and vocational skills training could, therefore, well be the solution to improving youth employability, says the company.
“As a large corporation, we serve a higher purpose than just running our businesses profitably. At Sasol, we believe in building great South Africans through our various support programmes. We, therefore, seek to play a constructive role as a transformative employer of choice and, more broadly, as an active corporate citizen,” adds Sasol public affairs VP Vusi Cwane.
Sasol Invests in Strategic Research at Universities
In April, Sasol also allocated R15-million in funding to support South African universities in conducting basic research in selected thematic areas of strategic interest to the company. This is through its university support programme, which aims to contribute towards migrating South Africa to a high-end skills and knowledge economy.
Since the inception of its university support programme in 2005, Sasol has contributed more than R200-million towards university research initiatives. In addition to procuring essential equipment and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and expertise among local and international experts, the funding has also served to support young academics in becoming established researchers, filling the scarce skills gaps identified by the National Research Foundation.
“Sasol’s commitment to South Africa as an engaged corporate citizen continues to be unwavering even in the current macro- economic climate. We have always done our best to ensure broader participation in capacity building within South Africa’s higher education institutions, and are proud of the impact that our university collaboration programme has had in improving knowledge and innovation in the science and engineering disciplines,” says Sasol research and technology senior VP Rudi Heydenrich.
In September last year – in a first for a South African corporate – Sasol sent out an open call to all local universities and universities of technology for research proposals. Of the 200 proposals that were received, 39 have been selected for research grants. Beneficiaries include the universities of Fort Hare, Stellenbosch, Cape Town, Johannesburg, KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, the Free State and Pretoria, as well as Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, North-West University and the Vaal University of Technology.
“A striking feature of the successful applicants is the diversity and quality of their proposals. That the research grants were awarded on a highly competitive basis also shows that African researchers at some historically black universities can also hold their own against their well-resourced counterparts,” says Sasol’s Centre for Innovation and Business strategic research and technology VP Dr Thulani Dlamini.