Technical skills expo promotes student–company networking

23rd November 2012 By: Sashnee Moodley - Deputy Editor Polity and Multimedia

To help alleviate the technical skills shortage in South Africa, corporate events management company élancommunications launched the South African Broadcasting Company (SABC) Education myTomorrow Technical Careers Expo, in Johannesburg, last month.

The aim of the expo was to introduce learners to various organisations in the technical field and inform them of learnerships and training opportunities, as well as the requirements for those who have a technical aptitude.

MD of élancommunications, Hanli Kritzinger, and business development director Mandisa Nyathikazi explained at the opening of the expo that the idea began two years ago as a programme for disadvantaged communities, in terms of which learners were given the opportunity to speak to professionals in the technical industry.

“We researched the different public and private schools and the technical industry and found that there was interest from the industry to produce such a platform,” Nyathikazi said.

The SABC Education myTomorrow Technical Careers Expo will be a yearly event and target learners from grade 8 to 12 from more than 1 000 schools in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, the North West, Limpopo and the Free State.

“We are working closely with the Department of Basic Education, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the National Youth Skills Development Programme to make this event the prime platform for learners and industry to meet, network and exchange crucial information,” Kritzinger said.

SABC Education acting GM Pontsho Makhetha said the expo was one of the government’s aspirations to grow the skills of South Africans.

She noted that the initiative was part of youth skills development and that the youth needed to be informed about the different careers available to them.

Makhetha advised learners to ensure they choose the correct subjects in grade ten, as one of the challenges in the education sector was learners who chose the wrong subjects and subsequently failed.

“First-year university students do not do well and it is a loss, as many use bursaries. This leads to many students dropping out of university, which creates a bleak future for skills in South Africa,” she said.

The SABC Education myTomorrow initiative was rolled out at the beginning of the year and organisers and representatives from SABC Education travelled across the country to promote it.

About 7 000 high schools were supplied with matric study guides, DVDs, CDs and workbooks to ensure they were prepared for the end-of-year exams.

Transnet Freight Rail chief executive Siyabonga Gama said skills were needed in the technical field and that it was vital to create a pipeline for youths who have technical skills.

“Transnet needs engineers and this is where mathematics and science are important. We will expose learners to what Transnet offers, but perseverance is key,” he asserted.

The DHET deputy director-general Firoz Patel officially opened the event and said that education and training were vital not only for human resource development but also for individuals to access opportunities in the economy.

He stated that there were skills shortages in the technical and engineering fields and that the technical field was the future, as it held the most job opportunities in the country.

“There is a great need for technicians. We need to build and maintain bridges, roads and dams. We need to maintain factories and mines and we also need technical skills for the solar industry,” he said.