Enhancing job opportunities for young South Africans

Michelle Ling­ham, par­tic­i­pant of the COBENEFITS Online Train­ing, South Africa

In this part of our series Co-ben­e­fits Sto­ries, Michelle Ling­ham. For this series, we have asked ener­gy pro­fes­sion­als that have par­tic­i­pat­ed in our train­ings for their thoughts and expe­ri­ences on co-ben­e­fits of renew­able ener­gy in their country.

“From a renew­able ener­gy per­spec­tive, South Africa has a favourable cli­mate for renew­able ener­gy solu­tions on a domes­tic and indus­tri­al scale. Busi­ness­es are espe­cial­ly hard hit with pow­er out­ages of long dura­tions which affect pro­duc­tion and effi­cien­cy neg­a­tive­ly, which in turn lead to low­er turnover and as a result retrench­ments and job cuts.

By pay­ing atten­tion to the oppor­tu­ni­ty that renew­able ener­gy presents, we can train young peo­ple to become skilled arti­sans, tech­ni­cians and installers who learn from a qual­i­fied and expe­ri­enced plat­form of South Africans who are dri­ving the ini­tia­tives for ener­gy access, secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty. Poli­cies that encour­age the use of clean tech­nol­o­gy, sub­si­dies for instal­la­tions as well as enforc­ing main­te­nance plans cre­ate jobs for the entire life cycle of the renew­able ener­gy system.

Oper­a­tions and main­te­nance rep­re­sent a large part of solar PV instal­la­tions. There is no need for inter­na­tion­al com­pa­nies to be involved if local com­pa­nies are trained to main­tain large scale instal­la­tions, or small scale on the domes­tic front. Pol­i­cy changes will dis­cour­age the use of fos­sil fuels, out­dat­ed train­ing pro­grammes and dri­ve the nar­ra­tive towards a new­er, clean­er and more reli­able elec­tric­i­ty infra­struc­ture with a focus on local exper­tise, train­ing and job cre­ation. The data gath­ered over the last 15 years clear­ly indi­cates that Eskom is fail­ing at pro­vid­ing pow­er to the nation. By remov­ing them from the monop­oly of pow­er gen­er­a­tion we can cre­ate jobs from clean tech­nol­o­gy and start to lift young peo­ple out of dire circumstances.”

Based on insights of the COBENEFITS research group, the Renew­ables Acad­e­my (RENAC) cur­rent­ly con­ducts train­ings in Turkey, Kenya, South Africa and Mex­i­co. Par­tic­i­pants learn about co-ben­e­fits of renew­able ener­gy in cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion, tools to quan­ti­fy and com­mu­ni­cate social and eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties and poli­cies and instru­ments to mobilise them.