Pretoria – A special skills solar water heater installation training programme has produced hundreds of new solar installers.
The programme is aimed at enabling unemployed people to learn a set of skills to improve their job prospects. The programme was the brainchild of Mpumi Mnconywa, the Chief Director of the Labour Activation Programme at the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
“Solar water heating is high on the Department of Energy’s agenda, with over one million installations being targeted nationally. However, there is a shortage of competent installers, so it made sense to focus on this market,” said Mnconywa.
Funded by the UIF and the Energy and Water Services Sector Education and Training Authority (EWSETA), the programme was launched mid-2014. Two groups of 150 men and women were selected to undergo training, which covered basic plumbing and solar water heater installations. Female candidates accounted for 48% of the intake, a major step forward in promoting gender equality.
The content was specially designed by training company SA Solar Academy and included three months classroom teaching and hands-on practical workshops.
Successful graduates qualified for a nine-month internship with a selected host employer. A week-long entrepreneurship introduction was also included.
“The results are astonishing – 291 out of 300 have graduated, which is a 97% success rate. Many are now employed full-time and four of our students started their own businesses and have secured their first contract,” Mnconywa said.