SA to develop skills in the energy sector

BRICS delegations including South Africa gathered at an international seminar to discuss the development of skills in the energy sector. Picture: Supplied

BRICS delegations including South Africa gathered at an international seminar to discuss the development of skills in the energy sector. Picture: Supplied

Published Jul 11, 2024


Official delegations from South Africa, Russia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Brazil, China and Egypt participated in an international seminar that was dedicated to human resource development in the energy sector held in Obninsk, Russia.

The event was organised with the support of the Russian Ministry of Energy and Rosatom.

One of the themes of the seminar was a discussion of human resources development in the BRICS countries in the context of The Energy Transition Research compiled in 2023 under the chairmanship of South Africa.

“It is obvious that the BRICS countries have different energy balances and different access levels to energy resources. At this point, the staff training needs for the energy industry are different in each country,” the Deputy Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation Anastasia Bondarenko said.

“At the same time, the BRICS countries have many similar goals and difficulties in the labour market development and staff training areas, and this opens up the potential of our cooperation extension. I am confident that together we can achieve significant success in any direction.“

Nelisiwe Nhlapo, project manager, South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) said that BRICS countries are world leaders in the workers’ quantity in all energy sectors. In the renewable energy sector (RES) they make up 50% of employees while 80% of employees are in the coal sector.

The major challenges that the BRICS countries face today are:

– the ageing of working staff in the traditional energy sector

– difficulties in transferring experience to the younger generation

– the need to develop specialised skills among young people.

It is of great importance to unite countries in the scientific research, standardising qualifications, and disseminating exchange for students and teachers, creating mutual programmes in energy education.

The BRICS delegations also presented their national strategies for skills development in the energy sector.

The delegation from SA spoke on the experience of the sectoral education system. More than 20 SA educational institutions of various industrial areas have been created to develop specific hard and soft skills.

The UAE delegation laid out the primary areas of education that are in demand in the context of the energy transition.

This includes expertise in renewable energy, energy efficiency, engineering and design, digital skills, project management, regulatory frameworks, research and development, public education, and specialised technical skills.

The Brazilian delegation spoke about specialised targeted student courses, graduates and professionals in the fuel and energy sector on renewable energy sources, biofuels, labour safety, environmental protection and others.

The Egyptian delegation presented the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources experience programmes for mid-level and senior managers in the energy sector, a leadership development programme and an energy efficiency training programme.

Gulnara Bikkulova, Deputy General Director of the International Initiatives and Partnerships Block of the Rosatom Corporate Academy, shared the experience of the Russian nuclear industry.

Bikkulova gave a snapshot of the Russian energy sector with 2.6 million working staff. The average age of employees is 42 years, women account for 26% of total personnel.

Rosatom is doing a lot of work within the human resources development ecosystem to improve these indicators.

Inter alia, the company involves the youth into the industry by cooperating with 250 Rosatom schools and 21 partner universities. The special attention is paid to issues of gender balance:

The Corporate Academy has launched the Invisible Force women’s leadership programme and is assisting schools in teaching technical disciplines to female students.

BRICS cooperation provides tangible benefits for South Africa in the fields of research and innovation, energy, health, and education cooperation.

As South Africa moves towards a low-carbon development path that is inclusive and sustainable, BRICS membership will give the country access to policy and technical expertise of partner economies to accelerate SA’s industrialisation as well as meet Fourth Industrial Revolution aspirations.

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