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Twenty-four unemployed youths in South Africa are set to benefit from acquiring a safety, health, environmental and quality qualification through a partnership between SGS South Africa, local power company Eskom, and the Dipaleseng municipality.

The students will be attending the SGS RiskStar training program hosted at Eskom’s Grootvlei power station in Mpumalanga. The four week program, approved by the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management, will focus on the skills and technical risk competencies that employers require for recognizing hazards and taking preventative actions to avoid injuries and non-compliances. On completion of the course, up to 20 participants will be offered the opportunity to complete a three month internship at the power station.

SGS South Africa’s sustainability team leader and strategic transformation manager, Viviane Lokale, explains how the decision was made to provide the training and use corporate social responsibility funds to deliver the greatest impact. “Sustainability, which is the focus of my team, is ensuring that long term value is added to society. We believe that skills that support the sustainability and success of formal businesses in an ecosystem, such as within electricity generation supply chains and services, will meet this objective.”

Eskom Grootvlei’s maintenance manager, Lourence Chauke, who serves as the community engagement leader and mentor of the program, notes that more than 9,000 people, including 4,000 local youths, applied for the 24 positions. The successful applicants were interviewed and selected based on their meeting the minimum criteria, which included residency in the municipal areas of Greylingstad, Balfour or Grootvlei. Additionally, most of the selected youths had demonstrated a commitment to learning, through completion of other short courses, training programs or internships.

All partners hope that the initiative will serve as a model for local skills development while supporting local supplier development and sustainability.