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EWSETA launches women-focused renewable energy skills programme

Higher Education Deputy Minister Buti Manamela, Power Africa coordinator David Thompson and EWSETA CEO Mpho Mookapele unpack the significance of renewable energy skills development

20th April 2023

By: Marleny Arnoldi

Deputy Editor Online

     

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The Energy & Water Sector Education Training Authority (EWSETA), together with the Department of Higher Education and Training and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on April 19 launched a renewable energy skills development programme for 100 women.

The Electrical Engineering Renewable Energy Specialisation Skills Development Programme is seeing 100 artisans in electrical engineering being upskilled in renewable energy, over a six-month period.

EWSETA deems it necessary to equip the country’s workforce with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in the new economic and energy landscape, where decarbonisation and solving loadshedding are major drivers of change.

The programme will also upskill 15 technical vocational education and training (TVET) college lecturers from the Gert Sibande, Nkangala and Ehlanzeni TVET in Mpumalanga, which will help the colleges attain accreditation to offer a National Qualification Framework Level 3 qualification in electrical engineering for renewable energy.

The partners envision that the participating women will gain valuable renewable energy industry skills, such as wind and solar system design and installation, battery storage design and installation, as well as solar water heating installation, during the programme. This will afford them greater access to employment and business opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

In turn, the lecturers will be capacitated not only on the course curriculum, so that they can train future cohorts, but also on the new renewable energy technologies that young learners today need to be exposed to.

The fact that the programme targets women as the main beneficiaries is a response to transformational imperatives within the energy sector, as the current workforce is still predominantly male.

“The move to upskill and capacitate this first cohort of women with this qualification will have a significant impact on the regional economy of Mpumalanga, as new green technologies are being introduced to complement existing economic activities and open new areas of opportunity.

“Given the need for a just energy transition, proactive measures will ensure the province can integrate renewable energy technologies into their green economy strategies and that a capable workforce with relevant skills is available,” EWSETA CEO Mpho Mookapele stated.

She added that TVET colleges in Mpumalanga must not be left behind as the province embarked on decarbonisation initiatives, including reskilling coal-fired power plant employees.

Speaking to Engineering News on the sidelines of the launch, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Deputy Minister Buti Manamela said there were similar skills development programmes happening at technical colleges in certain provinces, however, he would like to see these types of partnerships and programmes expanding further throughout the country.

“Skills are at the centre of dealing with the energy challenges that we have.”

In turn, USAID initiative Power Africa acting coordinator David Thompson said the Just Energy Transition Partnership, between South Africa, France, Germany, the UK, the US and the European Union, to help decarbonise South Africa’s economy, is looking at enhanced renewable energy skills development.

This includes getting more women employable and working in the sector.

USAID Southern Africa Energy Programme technical chief of party Tshegofatso Neeuwfan noted the skills gained from the EWSETA renewable energy programme were relevant right now, as the country responded to the electricity crisis and the energy market changed rapidly to a decentralised one. The skills were also relevant to the country’s long-term energy plans.

On this topic, Manamela says the skills gained also speak to the changing ways of work and rapid technological development globally. He applauds the programme as it will help ensure livelihoods of in what is a vulnerable province to the energy transition.

The Deputy Minister adds that the participating TVET colleges will now be more responsive to market needs and make a meaningful contribution to national skills development goals.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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