According to a new report issued by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in January 2015, South Africa currently ranks sixth globally in terms of youth unemployment with a current rate of 52.5%.  

One of the biggest challenges is access to work opportunities, which the partnership between the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA) and the Motheo TVET College in Bloemfontein is addressing with its training of process controllers in water and wastewater treatment and reticulation services.  

Today, 16 March 2015, marks the turning point in addressing the non-availability of skilled registered process controllers and maintenance staff of water and wastewater facilities within municipalities in South Africa. This is a key obstacle constraining the capacity of municipalities to render effective delivery of adequate quality water and wastewater treatment services to South African citizens.  

“On behalf of the Department of Higher Education and Training I applaud the successful implementation of this project thus far and commit our support to the successful completion which will ultimately lead to these young learners potentially being absorbed by the participating municipalities to fill vacant positions,” says Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana, who attended the official launch.  

“Even more exciting than this is that learners who wish to continue with their studies can proceed to the Central University of Technology and, on successful completion of their courses, can enrol for a Master’s and Doctor’s degree in water and wastewater management.”  

The project conceptualised a poverty relief and job creation pilot programme, taking into cognisance the existing institutional frameworks and skills training initiatives in the Free State province. The Motheo TVET College and EWSETA partnered with Aurecon SA and Khula Nonke Training and Development to deliver the programme. The project also sought to secure funding for the implementation of the programme and project management over three years.  

“Projects such as these are being implemented successfully, particularly in areas of our country where the lack of adequately skilled technical cluster professionals remains a source of concern,” explains Errol Gradwell, CEO of EWSETA.  

“The College is looking forward to playing a major role in raising the awareness of the importance of water as a scarce resource in communities. It is the responsibility of all South African citizens to be educated about the importance of water and the dangers posed by lack of water. It is my hope that this project will be the first of many such innovative and vibrant projects that we will implement together with EWSETA, the Free State government and its citizens,” adds MDM Phutsisi, Director of Motheo TVET College.  

Motheo TVET College, with its three campuses in Hillside View, Bloemfontein CBD and Thaba ‘Nchu and various satellites in the Motheo and Xhariep area, is well-known for its successful implementation of skills programmes and learnerships in scarce and critical skills, as reflected in the strategic plans of the different SETAs. These programmes involve training in practical and theoretical components that last for weeks, months or years.  

The NQF Levels 2 to 4, Water and Wastewater Process Control and Water and Waste Water Reticulation Services on NQF Levels 3 – 4 qualification, will enhance productivity within the water sector and contribute to the ecological sustainability and improvement of the water environment.  

“The project commenced in July 2013 and will conclude in July 2016. Most of the learners recruited in year 1 for NQF Levels 2-3 were selected to continue to obtain the next levels in their respective qualifications obtained,” continues Phutsisi.  

“The qualifications provide flexibility to pursue different careers in fields related to the water sector in a range of water or wastewater operations, including careers in other related sectors, such as pollution control, wet industries, electricity generation and a variety of environmental sectors.”

  “It is the vision of Motheo TVET College to educate and capacitate municipalities, so that they are able to take water plants in the Free State to blue drop status. Thus we are extremely excited about the success already achieved in year 1 of this project and look forward to the completion of year 2 and year 3, in 2016.”  

The initial intake of unemployed youth has seen academic performance of all learners in year one at an average of 80% per unit standard completed, with some receiving 100 % for most of the modules. The intake included matriculants with Maths and Science, or unemployed youth with a BSc or National Diploma in Water Care or postgraduates. Candidates with physical disabilities and women were encouraged to apply in numbers for more representation in the water and wastewater sector.  

Memoranda of Understanding were signed with participating district and local municipalities to host the learners for the practical component at the water and wastewater treatment facilities. The learners are trained in five district municipalities and over 12 local municipalities.

  • Year 1 total number of learners:  240 – July 2013 – July 2014
  • Year 2 total number of learners:  165 – July 2014 – July 2015
  • Year 3 total number of learners:  148 – July 2015 – July 2016  

“There is no doubt that learners who successfully complete the training programme will contribute significantly towards improving the Blue and Green Drop performance of Water Services Authorities in the Free State province. It is also hoped that graduates will create new enterprises to be owned or managed by the graduates,” concludes Gradwell.  

The mandate of EWSETA is to anticipate, build and manage the skills development and training needs of the energy and water services sector, through strategic skills planning within the context of the NSDS III. It operates in the Electricity, Oil and Gas, Nuclear, Renewable energy and Water, Waste & Sanitation sectors.  

To fulfil its goals, it has implemented a new structure that increases its capacity to service its stakeholders in a significantly improved manner. It has also formulated strategic partnerships with FET institutions, universities, government departments, business and international leaders within the energy and water sector.  

Article sourced from Press Portal.