Top em­ploy­ers all em­pha­sise train­ing

Top em­ploy­ers all em­pha­sise train­ing

Finweek English Edition - - Focus On -

AL­MOST ALL SOUTH AFRICA’S lead­ing com­pa­nies take skills de­vel­op­ment se­ri­ously, recog­nis­ing that their em­ploy­ees must ei­ther move up or out. A scan through SA’s Best Com­pa­nies to Work For , a Cor­po­rate Re­search Foun­da­tion an­nual pub­li­ca­tion, demon­strates that al­most without ex­cep­tion each of the com­pa­nies listed boasts com­pre­hen­sive train­ing pro­grammes.

Most sim­i­larly recog­nise that skills de­vel­op­ment is not a one-off ac­tiv­ity but a life­long one. Lead­ing em­ploy­ers al­most uni­formly ded­i­cate them­selves to es­tab­lish­ing a cul­ture of con­tin­u­ous learn­ing. Such is es­pe­cially the case at those or­gan­i­sa­tions with a par­tic­u­lar need for ar­ti­sans, such as Sa­sol, Eskom and Transnet.

Sa­sol will in­vest al­most R250m over the next eight years to es­tab­lish a teach­ing and re­search ca­pac­ity in chem­istry and chem­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing at se­lected SA uni­ver­si­ties. The group is also es­tab­lish­ing ad­vi­sory boards for re­search and de­vel­op­ment (R&D) in an­a­lyt­i­cal tech­nol­ogy, as well as in coal and gasifi-

cation dis­ci­plines.

Sa­sol ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Nolitha Fakude says: “The re­al­i­sa­tion that our uni­ver­si­ties may not be able to fully pro­vide Sa­sol’s fu­ture man­power needs has re­sulted in us help­ing build strate­gic ca­pac­ity through a uni­ver­sity col­lab­o­ra­tion pro­gramme.” Its main ob­jec­tive is to es­tab­lish world-class teach­ing and re­search ca­pac­ity, thus en­sur­ing over the longer term Sa­sol Tech­nol­ogy has ad­e­quate ac­cess to highly skilled chemists and chem­i­cal en­gi­neers in R&D.

A secondary ob­jec­tive is to es­tab­lish aca­demic cen­tres of ex­cel­lence through which Sa­sol can lever­age its own fo­cused R&D ac­tiv­i­ties. “Ac­cess to the best hu­man re­sources, as well as the abil­ity to sup­port in­house re­search pro­grammes through longert­erm aca­demic col­lab­o­ra­tions, are es­sen­tial in keep­ing R&D in­sti­tu­tions com­pet­i­tive,” says Fakude.

While Eskom isn’t unique in ex­pe­ri­enc­ing SA’s gen­eral tech­ni­cal skills short­age, as a Gov­ern­ment-owned util­ity it more than most feels the obli­ga­tion to take skills de­vel­op­ment se­ri­ously. Its 2008 an­nual re­port says: “Train­ing has al­ways been a ma­jor fo­cus area in Eskom – to such an ex­tent that many out­side or­gan­i­sa­tions make use of our train­ing fa­cil­i­ties. We have 28 fa­cil­i­ties with 244 train­ing venues spread across SA, which can ac­com­mo­date a max­i­mum of 3 300 stu­dents. There are ap­prox­i­mately 540 teach­ing staff with 153 in­struc­tors and in ex­cess of 1 600 cour­ses in Eskom’s course cat­a­logue.”

Eskom in­vested R784,2m in to­tal train­ing costs over its 2008 fi­nan­cial year, com­pared to R747,7m in 2007. It’s ap­proved the es­tab­lish­ment of an Eskom Uni­ver­sity to co-or­di­nate and in­te­grate all learn­ing within Eskom of its 5 368 stu­dents, of which 85% are in the en­gi­neer­ing and tech­ni­cal fields.

Transnet spent R219m in 2007 (2,4% of its pay­roll), which com­pares favourably with the av­er­age among cor­po­rates. Its 2007 sus­tain­abil­ity re­port noted: “To ad­dress the fu­ture need for ar­ti­sans in Transnet,1 261 ap­pren­tices are un­der­go­ing train­ing in dif­fer­ent trades.” The re­port states it in­ducted 275 stu­dents in 2006 and 250 last year, as well as spon­sor­ing 176 bur­saries in var­i­ous dis­ci­plines at higher-ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions.

Sa­sol has to build strate­gic ca­pac­ity through a uni­ver­sity col­lab­o­ra­tion pro­gramme. Nolitha Fakude

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