Inspection, testing, verification and certification multinational SGS and State-owned power utility Eskom have partnered to train 24 local youths at Eskom’s Grootvlei power station, in the Dipaleseng municipality, in Mpumalanga, south of Heidelberg, in 12 subjects related to safety, health and quality.
The subjects are part of the SGS RiskStar training qualification programme, and SGS South Africa is being hosted by the power utility, says SGS South Africa certification and business enhancement division business manager Elfriede Giard.
The training and development programme is a corporate social responsibility initiative in collaboration with the Eskom Grootvlei power station and the Dipaleseng municipality.
“The four-week programme will focus on specific skills and technical risk competences demanded by employers and will include training and mentoring in job-specific skills, as well as workplace experience. After the course is completed, up to 20 participants who have passed the courses will complete a three-month internship at the Grootvlei power station,” she explains.
Specifically, the framework for the training and the safety, health, environmental and quality course materials are part of the SGS training programme and have been approved by the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management.
The training will enable the students to manage legal requirements and risk assessment, including hazardous work and companies, as well as permit working in dangerous or hazardous areas if the requisite safety controls are in place, says Giard.
Eskom Grootvlei maintenance manager Lourence Chauke, who also serves as the community engagement leader and a mentor in the programme, says that the skills the students are developing will help to strengthen Eskom or the companies that employ them by fulfilling detailed, technical and international-grade inspection and safety compliance roles.
SGS South Africa sustainability team leader and strategic transformation manager Viviane Lokale says the decision to provide the training was motivated by the need to find the best way to use corporate social responsibility funds to achieve the greatest impact.
The training will improve the success of businesses and, thereby, the sustainability of jobs created, while improving safety, health and risk compliance.
“While deciding on the format of the intervention, we discussed the success of businesses and how that could be translated into a principle. Integrity and trust, on which SGS has built its 65 000-employee global business on, are necessary for sustainability,” she says.
A focus on safe and healthy workplaces improves employee satisfaction and trust and demonstrates the principles of quality and professionalism that they are also expected to adhere to.
Sustainability ensures that society gains long-term value. Skills that support the sustainability and success of formal businesses in an ecosystem, such as within electricity generation supply chains and services, are relevant and valuable.
Chauke notes that more than 9 000 applications were received for the 24 positions, of which 4 000 were from youths from the local community.
Most of the youths selected were matriculants and all had completed several additional short-courses and training or internships at various companies.
Chauke highlights that the success of the project is important, as the initiative can serve as a model for sustainable local skills development and, more broadly, also support local supplier development and sustainability.