THE POWER OF THE YOUTH

Public Sector Manager - - Feature - Writer: Zoliswa Tshet­she

June is cel­e­brated as Youth Month in South Africa, with a spe­cific fo­cus on 16 June, known as Youth Day. Youth Month pays tribute to the school pupils who lost their lives dur­ing the 16 June 1976 up­ris­ing in Soweto. Zoliswa Tshet­she, Head of HR & Or­gan­i­sa­tion: Sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa for Enel Green Power re­flects on what Youth Month means.

The most im­por­tant days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. It is im­por­tant, through mind­ful­ness, to ask your­self who you are and what your power is. Ev­ery day you live is a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of your life. Make the best of it. As I pre­pare for my day I ask my­self the ques­tion: “What can I do to­day, with what I have, that will move me in the di­rec­tion of my vi­sion?” This way of think­ing is in­spired by those who came be­fore me.

On 16 June 1976, more than 15 000 stu­dents gath­ered at Or­lando West Se­condary School with the in­ten­tion of par­tic­i­pat­ing in a peace­ful march to the nearby Or­lando Sta­dium. The de­mon­stra­tion was planned to protest the use of Afrikaans as the medium of in­struc­tion at schools. The po­lice and armed forces re­sponded vi­o­lently to the peace­ful protest, killing 12-year-old Hec­tor Pi­eter­son and 175 oth­ers.

My hus­band was among the march­ing school­child­ren that day. For me, Youth Day re­flects the burn­ing de­sire of the 1976 youth to change their cir­cum­stances. Together they showed tremen­dous de­ter­mi­na­tion and demon­strated how the youth can change his­tory. The June 16 par­tic­i­pants were tired of the sta­tus quo. They un­der­stood the value of tak­ing the next step to make things hap­pen. They tapped into their in­ner power and made a last­ing change in South Africa. They had a clear vi­sion and would al­low noth­ing to stop them from re­al­is­ing it.

As an or­gan­i­sa­tion, we feel it is vi­tal to keep the spirit of the youth of 1976 alive. Our cul­ture at Enel Green Power South Africa (EGP RSA) is geared to recog­nis­ing the con­tri­bu­tions made by the youth – who make up 64 per­cent of our em­ploy­ees – be­cause it is de­fined by the youth who con­trib­ute to and drive our busi­ness in South Africa.

From the very mo­ment EGP RSA opened an of­fice in South Africa, we looked at the so­cio- and macro-eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment in South African to con­sider where we could add value to the coun­try. Youth em­ploy­ment was one of the chal­lenges we iden­ti­fied as hav­ing an op­por­tu­nity to ad­dress. This de­ci­sion also dove­tailed with the global

Enel Group phi­los­o­phy of creat­ing shared value – the premise that the com­pet­i­tive­ness and sus­tain­abil­ity of a com­pany and the wellbeing of com­mu­ni­ties in which it op­er­ates are mu­tu­ally de­pen­dent. We had an op­por­tu­nity

to cre­ate shared value in that, while we of­fer em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties to young peo­ple, we also ben­e­fit from a youth­ful work­force that is open to a cul­ture of in­no­va­tion and do­ing things dif­fer­ently.

The re­new­able en­ergy in­dus­try is still in its youth phase in South Africa. And it is com­mon knowl­edge that new de­vel­op­ments are em­braced and ap­plied more eas­ily by the younger generation. Young peo­ple shape the fu­ture. The same spirit that led the youth of 1976 to change the South African po­lit­i­cal land­scape is trans­form­ing the en­ergy in­dus­try into a space where re­new­able en­ergy is the norm rather than ex­cep­tion.

To a large de­gree this re­flects the so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity the youth of to­day have to­wards the en­vi­ron­ment. They view re­new­ables in a pos­i­tive light be­cause they are con­cerned about the fu­ture and feel the na­tion has a duty to gen­er­ate power from sources that do not cause harm to the en­vi­ron­ment and

fu­ture gen­er­a­tions. As the say­ing goes: “We have not in­her­ited this earth from our par­ents to do with it what we will. We have bor­rowed it from our chil­dren and we must be care­ful to use it in their in­ter­ests as well as our own.” Mother Na­ture has given us sources of power to solve some of our world’s chal­lenges. Re­new­able en­ergy is the re­spon­si­ble mech­a­nism to pro­duce power and is aligned to the in­ter­ests of to­day’s youth.

EGP RSA en­cour­ages more South African youth to pur­sue a ca­reer in re­new­ables. We of­fer bur­saries for stu­dents to fur­ther their stud­ies to­wards qual­i­fi­ca­tions aligned with the re­new­able en­ergy in­dus­try and com­mu­ni­cate with com­mu­ni­ties about op­por­tu­ni­ties at EGP RSA through the Project Steer­ing Com­mit­tees at our seven re­new­able power plants.

The se­cret to the suc­cess of our em­ploy­ees, and for those who wish to work at EGP RSA, is to un­der­stand the al­ready tested and proven Enel way of do­ing things. This re­quires an open at­ti­tude to learn­ing and an in­no­va­tive, “can do” at­ti­tude. This prac­tice nat­u­rally at­tracts younger peo­ple and we be­lieve the re­new­able en­ergy

sec­tor is fer­tile ground for them.

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