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South Africa to develop energy sector labour market

by Tia

South African delegates took an active part in a discussion on the BRICS countries human resource potencies in energy transition on the recent international seminar held in the Russian nuclear capital – Obninsk.

Official delegations from South Africa, Russia, the UAE, Brazil, China and Egypt took part in the international seminar devoted to human resource development in the energy sector held in Obninsk. The event was organised with the support of the Russian Ministry of Energy and Rosatom.

One of the keynotes of the seminar was a discussion of human resources development in the BRICS countries in the context of The Energy Transition Research compiled in 2023 under the chairmanship of South Africa.

“It is obvious that the BRICS countries have different energy balances and different access levels to energy resources. At this point, the staff training needs for the energy industry are different in each country. At the same time, the BRICS countries have many similar goals and difficulties in the labour market development and staff training areas, and this opens up the potential of our cooperation extension. I am confident that together we can achieve significant success in any direction,” Deputy Minister of Energy of the Russian Federation Anastasia Bondarenko noted.

Project Manager of the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) Nelisiwe Nhlapo stated that the BRICS countries are world leaders in the workers’ quantity in all energy sectors. They are 50% of all employees in the renewable energy sector (RES) and 80% of employees in the coal sector. At the same time, the main challenges that the BRICS countries face today are the aging of working staff in the traditional energy sector, difficulties in transferring experience to the younger generation, the need to develop specialised skills among young people. It is of great significance to unite countries in the scientific research, standardising qualifications, and disseminating exchange for students and teachers, creating mutual programmes in energy education.

BRICS delegations also presented their national strategies for skills development in the energy sector. The South African delegation dwelled on the experience of the sectoral education system: more than 20 educational institutions of various industrial areas have been created in the country in order to develop specific hard and soft skills.

The UAE delegation outlined the main areas of education that are in demand in the context of the energy transition. This includes expertise in renewable energy, energy efficiency, engineering and design, digital skills, project management, regulatory frameworks, research and development, public education, and specialized technical skills.

The Brazilian delegation spoke about the experience of specialized targeted student courses, graduates and professionals in the fuel and energy sector on renewable energy sources, biofuels, labor safety, environmental protection and others.

The Egyptian delegation presented the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources experience programmes for mid-level and senior managers in the energy sector, a leadership development programme and an energy efficiency training programme.

Gulnara Bikkulova, Deputy General Director of the International Initiatives and Partnerships Block of the Rosatom Corporate Academy, shared the experience of the Russian nuclear industry. She gave a snapshot of the Russian energy sector with 2.6 million working staff. The average age of employees is 42 years, women account for 26% of total personnel. Rosatom is doing a lot of work within the human resources development ecosystem to improve these indicators. Inter alia, company involves the youth into the industry by cooperating with 250 Rosatom schools and 21 partner universities. The special attention is paid to issues of gender balance: The Corporate Academy has launched the Invisible Force women’s leadership programme and is assisting schools in teaching technical disciplines to female students.

BRICS cooperation provides tangible benefits for South Africa in the fields of research and innovation, energy, health, and education cooperation. As South Africa moves towards a low-carbon development path that is inclusive and sustainable, BRICS membership will give the country access to policy and technical expertise of partner economies to accelerate South Africa’s industrialisation and meet Fourth Industrial Revolution aspirations.

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