It is estimated that about 8000 people braved the scorching sun and gathered at the sports field opposite the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital. With no incidents reported, the MEC and a nursing union expressed happiness at the way the process unfolded.
However, both questioned why the private colleges continued to train nurses while it was clear that there were very few employment opportunities available.
Mandla Shabangu, the provincial secretary of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA, said the high number of people who showed up indicated that nursing graduates far outstripped the demand in the sector.
“When the training of nurses was done by public institutions, we did not have these problems. However, since the Nursing Council allowed private institutions to offer these qualifications we have this situation,” Shabangu said.
The union said it was hopeful that the new board of the Nursing Council which comes into office in January would deal with the issue.
The Nursing Council could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said there were about 10000 unemployed nurses in the province, trained largely by private colleges.
“When we engaged these private nursing colleges, I asked them ‘what plan do you have?’ We went even further to allow for the absorption of these nurses. That has not made a significant dent,” Dhlomo said.
Job seeker Zama Mthethwa said she was pleased with how the process unfolded, saying it was “very organised”.
“I was here at 6.30am and by 11am we were already in the venue to write the tests,” she said.