A government sponsored project to improve service delivery in municipalities in the Eastern Cape and the Free State has seen opportunities being provided to 18 WSU National Diploma students to receive experiential training in one of the civil, electrical or mechanical fields of study.
The third-year engineering students form a total of 60 national diploma students sourced from WSU, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the Central University of Technology.
The programme is aimed at improving the quality of life of South Africans by making sure that government meets the Millennium Development Goals by 2014. It also aims to assist in growing the economy of all the targeted provinces by increasing the skills base at all levels.
The students have been funded through the Department of Higher Education and Training’s (DHET) National Skills Fund to the tune of close to R4 million at just over R60 000 per student.
The allocated funds cover a stipend, as well as logistical and administrative costs involved in recruitment, selection and placement, equipment purchased for each student, training material, assessments and quality assurance for each student.
“In October 2013 a Memorandum of Understanding with DHET was signed wherein it was agreed to provide a grant for this project to increase the pool of qualified professionals in the engineering industry. The project is aimed at the improvement of service delivery and the broadening of the skills base. ,” says Bigen Africa Project Management team.
Infrastructure developers Bigen Africa, has made headway in coordinating the placement of the students in companies such as Aurecon, Hlumisa Engineering, Momotheka Trading, Afri-Coast Engineers amongst others.
Civil engineering student Busiswa Mbanjwa is one of the students selected for the programme. She spends her day honing her skills on the site of the Second Creek RDP housing project currently underway.
“Working here thus far has been quite a challenge, but also a great learning opportunity. I’ve been literally thrown into the deep because this is a project that brings the different disciplines of engineering to the fore. I’m learning so much already in terms of strategy as well as groundwork,” says Mbanjwa.
She says she is confident that the programme will provide her with the industry-focused skills. Mbanjwa was also full of praise for the project after it had paid for her registration fee at the beginning of the year.
“This was a great weight off my shoulders because I didn’t have to start the year worrying about financial issues. I could channel all my thoughts and energies into this programme,” says Mbanjwa.
Another crucial aspect of Bigen Africa’s responsibilities is to ensure they keep tabs on the group after the programme runs its course. Dedicated registered engineers are assigned as mentors to different students.
“We have to monitor this group’s progress to ensure the goals of the programme to feed human capacity in our municipalities are fulfilled,” concludes Bigen Africa.