TRAINING: Norwegian Boost For SA Colleges
Recent Western Cape Business News
AN important partnership has been established between Norway’s Stavanger Offshore Technical College (SOTS) and three FET colleges in the Western Cape, aimed at setting new standards in education and training within the South African oil and gas sector.
The colleges - False Bay FET College, Northlink FET College and College of Cape Town - will benefit from an ongoing knowledge transfer programme by the long-established Norwegian college, which is the backbone of the highly proficient Norwegian oil industry.
This process has already begun, with an intensive introduction and training course run by SOTS at False Bay College conference centre in Muizenberg in August.
South African exports to Norway were worth some R2.8 billion, much more than Norway’s R1.2 billion to South Africa, but they are working to improve this. Norwegian investment in South Africa is already ‘quite good’, though there is room for improvement in the field of tourism. SOTS’ partnership with the three Cape colleges is an important forward step in their ongoing relationship.
“Our task is to help build up the standard of skills and competence in the South African oil and gas industry, enhancing employment prospects within South Africa, but also making this country a leading supplier of training and education to other countries in Africa,” Stella Aguirre, SOTS project manager told delegates.
It was important, by raising standards, to generate employability, to establish co-operation with industry and the relevant institutions and identify partners’ specific strengths. She stressed the importance of knowledge transfer, collaborative work among partners and the development of data storage and analysis.
Cassie Kruger, CEO of False Bay College, stressed the need to erode unemployment and poverty in South Africa, and for colleges to follow their students through after graduation and make sure they were properly settled into their new jobs.
But what were the needs in the Cape? Ship and oil rig repair and maintenance were top of the list, but in some areas ‘we haven’t yet got the know-how’. The role of our colleges must now be to act as a springboard to the more advanced courses offered by SOTS, thus upgrading the skills and employability of graduates.
Northlink CEO Leon Beech saw the opportunity to service not just the oil and gas industry, but rigs and support industries, even crane and hoist companies. Colleges needed to meet overseas standards, and this would be helped by planned staff exchanges.
There needed to be a clear understanding of what industry expects from the colleges, said Adrian Strydom of the SA Oil and Gas Alliance. One problem was that the South African certificates were not known globally, and industry did not fully value what colleges were doing. Literacy and numeracy were not adequate, and computer literacy was especially low. Moreover, we were not always attracting ‘incumbents’ of the right quality.
The key task was to develop great artisans in all fields, for example drillers, welders, boilermakers, riggers and fitters. The colleges could not do this on their own, they needed strong support from government and a real commitment to partnership from industry.
“It is very heartening that we now have the active support of SOTS, and with their help I believe we will succeed in providing a higher standard of artisans for the South African oil and gas industry,” Beech said.
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