Lesufi ramps up youth jobs with intake of 6,000 trainee solar technicians

The Gauteng government has announced the “first of many programmes” to offer young people job opportunities in the province with the upcoming intake of thousands of young people who will be trained as solar technicians. 

Premier Panyaza Lesufi, at a briefing on Thursday afternoon, unveiled a partnership between Gauteng and manufacturing, engineering and related services sector education and training authority (merSETA) that will see 6,000 young Gauteng residents receive training and qualifications in solar installation.

The training will run over 12 months in various stages. The project itself will run over 36 months.

“The training will cover areas such as installation, maintenance and repair of different aspects related to solar energy, concentrating on hybrid solar photovoltaic systems. It will also provide learners with business and entrepreneurial skills designed to help them start businesses in the growing energy sector.”

Lesufi explained the launch was the fruition of an announcement made during his maiden state of the province address (Sopa) earlier this year as well as the province’s inaugural energy expo.

“At the expo, we got lots of proposals that indicated how we can be helped as government to fight load-shedding. Within that context, we announced R1.2bn that we are setting aside to fight load-shedding, and also indicated that we are appointing six independent power producers who will build a huge 800MW solar farm.

“So this training, therefore, is meant to prepare these young people to go and build that solar farm. We’re not training them to go on to the streets, we’re training them to go and build a solar farm that this government will unveil,” Lesufi explained.

The premier said applications for the programme will be open from May 8 until June 8 and would be open to residents under 35 with matric or higher qualifications.

Having an N3+ electrical qualification from a TVET college, and/or technical matric is an added advantage while ideal candidates are those with an interest in energy efficiency, electrical work and the green economy.

He added that they would target young people from townships, informal settlements and hostels. They will be paid a monthly stipend of between R4,000 and R7,000 depending on their level of qualification.

The successful intake of this cohort will see 25,000 people overall employed to work at the solar farm.

“We want those townships to be our new economic model. We made a firm commitment, when we were delivering Sopa, that the new gold of Gauteng is not the mines, it’s the townships, and we need to revitalise them and make them exciting again,” he said.

“We are very firm, we’re not excluding anyone but priority will be given to those from the townships, informal settlements and hostels.”

Lesufi explained that the project will be funded by merSETA, which confirmed an initial investment of R175m. Additionally, the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (Sapvia) will oversee the quality of training and the qualification handed out to successful trainees.

The Gauteng City Region Academy (GCRA) will manage training, together with various training providers.

Sapvia CEO Dr Rethabile Melamu said that aspirant technicians will leave with a NQF 5 qualification after completing their training.

“What this initiative will also include is PV green card accreditation. It is our quality assurance mechanism mainly targeted at avoiding the ‘bakkie brigade’. Really I think this initiative will help us with our energy security challenge,” she said.

merSETA CEO Disa Mpande said their involvement was in response to Lesufi’s Sopa announcement.

“We are excited and we hope that a number of young people will benefit from this opportunity.”

Applicants can apply via email at [email protected], visit the SAyouth.mobi site or hand in a physical form at the various regional offices.  


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