Cape Town - Eskom will train at least 700 welders over the
next seven years.
The power utility on Thursday opened the Eskom Academy of
Learning (EAL) welding school of excellence.
The EAL was officially opened by Minister of Public
Enterprises Malusi Gigaba, with an initial intake of 150 trainees.
The new school, based in Midrand, aims to improve the
company's capacity to train welders to international standards so that it can
meet requirements for the construction of new power plants as well as the
maintenance and upgrading of existing plants.
The EAL plans to enrol a further 100 students each year. The
facility offers classroom theory with on-the-job training at power stations.
The school is a partnership between the South African
Institute of Welding and Eskom.
The welding initiative is also part of a broader Eskom
commitment to skills training and job creation, in support of the government's
new growth path.
Gigaba said the EAL currently has about 10 000 learners in
various stages of training.
Eskom is investing more than R1bn a year, representing over
6% of the wage bill, in the training and development of staff.
"It is imperative for state institutions to develop
skills in-house that will go a long way to alleviate the country's shortage and
to stimulate economic and employment opportunity," said Gigaba.
"This is an important and strategic technical skills
development programme, as the welders will be able to work not only for Eskom
but will also be of use to the broader South African economy," he said.
There was a massive outcry in 2011 when it became known that
Eskom had to recruit foreigners to work as welders on the construction site of the
new Medupi power station in Lephalale.
At the time Eskom said the necessary skills were not
This is the second major training initiative launched by a
state entity in the past few weeks. Last week Gigaba announced plans by South
African Airways to reopen its pilot training academy.