With the aim of making a meaningful contribution to the development of skills, particularly skills in the nuclear energy sphere, Eskom has participated in the second annual summit of the South African Young Nuclear Professionals Society (SAYNPS) taking place in Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape from 11-13 October 2017.
South Africa needs to build a strong skills base as skilled people leave the industry due to retirement and emigration to developing and first world countries that are aggressively promoting infrastructure development to boost and stimulate economic growth, among various reasons.
Delivering her keynote address on the first day of the summit, the Deputy Minister of Energy Ms Thembisile Majola said that the summit was taking place at an opportune time in our country when unemployment especially amongst the young people is at its highest. With the advent of the fourth industrial revolution, there is a need for the youth to acquire the requisite skills, expertise and experience so as to be able to contribute effectively to the development and growth of the economy of our country, she said.
Encouraging the young people in attendance to take the issues of skilling themselves head-on, Eskom's acting GM for nuclear new build Mr Loyiso Tyabashe said: The country is right at the centre of an energy revolution. As young people, we have to push ourselves to a point of readiness.
As Eskom, we are indeed taking steps to empower young people with the relevant skills, knowledge and opportunities to participate meaningfully in the energy industry currently and in future as we anticipate the commencement of South Africa's nuclear new build programme. We look at their participation across the spectrum from enabling them to follow careers to being entrepreneurs offering services and building thriving business in the energy space. To this end, we have spent R3.7bn towards Black youth-owned businesses in the past three years and we also provide support for small enterprise development through sponsorship for the New Generation Movement (NGM), he said.
Eskom last week held a successful launch of a Schools Nuclear Debate programme in Port Elizabeth to promote an open discussion around nuclear energy and encourage young people to engage critically as the country considers future energy needs and sources to support socio-economic growth.
Furthermore, in June 2016 we launched the Eskom Nuclear Operator Pipeline project at the Koeberg Power Station in Cape Town as part of Eskom's plans to beef up local nuclear resources to support the country's needs. The project provides a platform for developing a robust nuclear operator pipeline for South Africa. The programme, spanning five years, aims to build a path to ensure that there are sufficient local nuclear resources to service the country's present and future nuclear needs. After the five-year period, trainees will qualify as nuclear plant operators or will enter related career equivalents, Tyabashe concluded.
The involvement of young nuclear professionals in the decision-making, skills development programmes and research and development will help in developing and transferring skills. When old experts retire, young professionals will have enough experience and knowledge in the field, said Mr Gaopalelwe Santswere, the Executive Chairperson of the South African Young Nuclear Professionals Society.
About the South African Young Nuclear Professionals Society
The South African Young Nuclear Professionals Society (SAYNPS) was established in 2002 following a second biannual conference of the International Youth Nuclear Congress (IYNC) held in Daejeon, South Korea. SAYNPS was officially launched on 25 August 2006 at the Eskom Convention Centre in Midrand, Gauteng.
The organisation comprises of six corporate chapters and two student chapters. There are currently over 600 active members. The society is a member of the International Youth Nuclear Congress (IYNC), the African Young Generation in Nuclear (AYGN) and sits on the Board of Directors of the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (Niasa).