The current bout of load shedding is yet another infuriating reminder of the urgency required to decisively tackle South Africa’s energy crisis. It is an appropriate time too for the Premier’s Council on Skills (PCS) to forge ahead with its mandate of promoting skills development, generally and specifically in the field of renewable energy.
Premier Alan Winde was thrilled to have the PCS help launch the innovative and unique Solar Photovoltaic Technician-ICT4APP qualification pilot project today. The qualification is being rolled out at several Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in the country, including West Coast College and False Bay College, in the Western Cape. These institutions – with the help of the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services SETA (merSETA) and The South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) – have developed the training infrastructure needed to teach and equip learners with the necessary SPV skills so they can contribute to our push for a green economy and ultimately end mass power cuts.
The Premier remarked while the theme of today’s launch was “Energy Resilience in the Solar Photovoltaic Industry”, it could also be themed “Opportunities Coming out of the Dark” given the country has once again been plunged into rolling power cuts.
He told delegates: “The skills we grow today, must make an impact tomorrow.” Premier Winde added: “It’s critical to get the province’s skills mix right so as to get the investment mix right, and to get the entrepreneurial skills right.”
Among the aims of the project is to help employers make informed decisions regarding hosting a learner and supporting the supply of technical skills in the sector.
This is the first digital learning experience designed to incorporate the latest online technologies, while also guiding learners through practical training and eventually into the workplace.
The programme is unique:
- It is based on a repackaged digital teaching and learning pathway;
- Knowledge components are completed online;
- When assessments show a sufficient theoretical grasp, learners are then invited to practical workshop training;
- Practical skills training takes place at an approved TVET institution equipped with technical mentorship expertise;
- Once these skills are mastered, learners are then invited to approved workplaces to complete their training.
There are numerous benefits to taking part in this pilot:
- Learners are “work-ready” before the first workplace assignment; and able to contribute to the business;
- Learners benefit from high-quality teaching in the latest PV technology infrastructure;
- Learners are paid the same daily stipend through the merSETA-ICT4APP on a weekly basis while in the workplace. This is not the responsibility of the employer and so reduces administrative overheads for the employer;
- Employers receive a “hosting stipend”.
Adding to the project’s environmentally friendly focus is the fact that it is paperless and entirely digital-based.
Solar PV forms part of the Western Cape Government’s drive toward a green economy. “We have a strong green economy ecosystem,” said Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities Mireille Wenger. She told delegates: “We are working hard to cultivate this.”
“Building energy resilience is a key priority, not only because we need to mitigate the effects of load shedding and the resulting economic damage, but because of the immense potential this sector has to attract investment, grow our regional economy and create jobs,” said Wenger.
She stressed: “SPV has become a cost-effective, carbon-free, and sustainable form of electricity generation for businesses and households; and so we must ensure that we have in place the right skills pipelines so that the renewable energy sector can thrive in the Western Cape.”
The Premier strongly urged employers to consider joining this pilot project to enhance their businesses and help in overcoming the power crisis, while at the same time offering learners employment and a brighter future.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Western Cape Government Department of the Premier.