EWSETA to Play Key Role in Nuclear Sector.

EWSETA Set to Play Important Role in Nuclear Energy Skills Development

The South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) proposes several priority interventions intended to achieve energy security, whilst at the same time effectively transitioning to cleaner energy sources. Of these, the need to prepare for a nuclear programme at a pace and a rate that is affordable, has been identified as a viable contributor to the country’s energy mix and stability on the national grid. IRP

The resultant increase in capacity, requires increased supply of appropriate and relevant skills.

Human capacity and skills development was just one of many unpacked at the Nuclear Technology Imbizo held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 16 – 17 March 2022 under the theme “Promoting Global Strategic Partnerships to Support the South African Nuclear Build Expansion Programme”.

The event, hosted by the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA), in partnership with several key industry stakeholders, highlighted action required to overcome obstacles to train and educate a highly knowledgeable and skilled nuclear workforce. The Imbizo highlighted the risk the  country and industry faces with regards to loss of  critical skills.  The ageing workforce in the nuclear industry further presents a challenge that needs to be addressed to ensure growth and that the IRP 2019 objectives are met.

Mpho Mookapele, Chief Executive Officer for the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA), shared information on the importance of skills development in South Africa’s nuclear sector, but more specifically on the role that  the EWSETA in collaboration with industry and the Post School Education and Training (PSET) system, will play in capacitating the sector with relevant  skills. This requires strategic partnerships with local and international players.

“It is fortuitous that the theme of the Imbizo focuses on strategic partnerships,” comments Mookapele “.  EWSETA recognises the critical role collaboration  and partnerships play in building a capable workforce to serve the industry.  A fragmented approach to skills planning and skills delivery will not allow the country to achieve its planned goals. To achieve the results required, the country needs a significant investment in skills development and stakeholder collaboration within the country’s many sectors.

To this end, the Imbizo presented the ideal opportunity for the signing of a collaborative agreement between the EWSETA and NIASA.

“Through collaborative partnerships such as this one with NIASA, we will ‘have our finger on the pulse’ of the nuclear industry and in doing this will gain insight into the industry, which will, in turn, inform future skills planning and delivery,” adds Mookapele.

The partnership has got off to a flying start.

The energy sector reflects a significant gender disparity in leadership roles and there is a need for capacity building initiatives to close the glaring gap. The EWSETA has partnered with NIASA and Women in Nuclear South Africa (WINSA), to capacitate thirty women from the nuclear sector with skills and knowledge to take up and grow in leadership roles in the industry.

The programme, that is being fully funded by the EWSETA, follows the success of the EWSETA/Wits Business School 2021 Women in Energy Executive Development Programme and will again be hosted by Wits Business School and is scheduled to commence on 28 March 2022.

“This exciting programme is aimed at senior women leaders in the nuclear industry and specialists who need to transition to managerial or executive roles and is framed around the requirements of the new world of work,” enthuses Mookapele “and it seeks to upskill candidates, as well as develop self-mastery and leadership skills.”

The EWSETA calls on the nuclear industry to strive for inclusive economic participation by ensuring that all have access to job and business opportunities in the value chain. Young people and communities must be  made aware of these opportunities through community engagements and be capacitated to meaningfully participate in the economic activities.

EWSETA commits to playing a leading role in driving skills development in the Energy sector to ensure energy security and advance growth for the sector,” concludes Mookapele.