South Africa Releases Energy Skills Roadmap

  • The South African National Energy Association (SANEA) has release the South African Energy Skills Roadmap 2023.
  • SANEA is a not for profit company founded in 1924 and represents a hub for objective thought leadership on energy and related matters.

The report was done in partnership with Wits University’s Centre for Researching Education and Labour (REAL) and the Wits Business School’s African Energy Leadership Centre (AELC) and supported by the South African BRICS Business Council. It is intended to promote the just energy transition.

As the energy crisis deepens, key stakeholders across the broader energy sector have emerged with a plan to ensure the requisite human capacity exists to deliver the technical energy solutions now and as the just energy transition unfolds.

The project has been funded by Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), and is the result of extensive desktop research and consultation over the last year amongst the key stakeholders across the broader energy sector.  This includes government, business, civil society, researchers and labour.

Main take-aways

The energy sector is being driven by a number of key trends both global and local. These have critical implications for skills development as not only will current jobs be impacted, but new occupations and skills will be needed.

Skills requirements for the energy system necessitates an ecosystem approach and acknowledge the transformative process that is occurring over time and local geographic areas. Siloed approaches need to therefore be avoided to maximise any opportunities and build any trade-offs into decision making

The energy sector is in crisis and faces a great deal of uncertainty in developing a skills roadmap as a result. This means that flexibility and contingencies need to be built into any skills roadmap as well as continual tracking of the environment as uncertainties unfold.

Occupations and skills

The shift to decarbonisation and electrification is being reflected in the increased demand for a wider variety of jobs, including outside the energy sector. This has resulted in the emphasis on only techno economic jobs shifting to a socio-economic and just transition emphasis

The private sector is employing specialists in future areas such as green hydrogen in order to be able to develop policy and drive the trajectory. The public sector is focused more on current jobs.

The decentralisation and automation/AI trends are resulting in a shift in the types and location of jobs from more technical to more construction jobs for example in renewables. 

The emerging energy markets are driving new types of jobs but also where they are located geographically and sectorally, e.g. from a central utility to a municipality etc.

Impact on the education sector

  • There is adequate education supply for traditional energy jobs at university level (number of courses not number of graduates). 
  • Traditional energy education is not supplying adequate specialisations e.g. specific renewable technologies or clean energy.
  • It is unclear if curriculum and education quality are responding adequately or is appropriate for future demand.
  • Community and TVET colleges are not responding to or providing appropriate training for current and future demand e.g. solar in the Northern Cape or job decreases in Mpumalanga. 
  •  The pipeline from basic education is poor and this is impacting the throughput of students in the relevant courses at tertiary education level. 

Skills planning

  • Skills planning needs to be flexible given the uncertainties and this is currently not considered adequately. 
  • Skills planning needs to be done with a building an ecosystem (geographical and sectoral) mindset and not once off siloed interventions. 
  • All sectors need to be included in skills planning for the energy sector to avoid duplication, and to ensure that the enabling jobs in the ecosystem are all adequately provisioned.
Link to the full report HERE 

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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