TRANSFORMING THE ENERGY SECTOR THROUGH SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING
A study undertaken by the Department of Energy’s IPP office shows that 25% of renewable energy funded-scholarships fall to the Globeleq Scholarship Fund (GSF), which launched in 2014 to help develop young engineering students for the nascent renewable energy industry and actively support the transformation of the industry.
Energy Minister Jeff Radebe recently acknowledged the contribution that the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers (IPPs) have made towards education within remote local communities. Over R1 billion has been spent on education by upskilling teachers, providing extra teachers and classrooms, as well as awarding an astounding number of scholarships and bursaries to students from disadvantaged communities, with over 50% of these bursaries being taken up by women.
“In our capacity as the management services company of Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm we developed this programme to help meet the demand within the industry for qualified engineers, to not only create a skills pipeline for our organisation, but also to help meet the growing demand for qualified black engineers and thereby supporting our country as a whole,” explained Dhesen Moodley, Managing Director of Globeleq South Africa Management Services.
Since 2016, the GSF recipients have been 100% black youth and over 55% female for the last two years, setting an ambitious target not only for the renewable energy industry but for other sectors who are striving to support the transformation of South Africa.
The GSF programme believes that it utilises a less conventional and holistic approach to funding, by typically not only focusing on academic achievement, but rather on financial need, location of the students and gender to demonstrate its commitment to increase the cache of women engineers in the country and to the sector.
“Over the years the GSF has grown and expanded, however, it has consistently provided young people with exposure to the renewable energy industry, as well as offering opportunities through an internship programme for beneficiaries to gain the necessary work experience. Specifically, the opportunity for national diploma students to complete their required in-service training and thereby fill the technical skills gap within the renewable energy industry,” added Moodley.
The GSF includes two streams, namely Engineering and Education, a focus that was added into programme in 2017 to specifically build teaching capacity within rural communities.
The Engineering stream, which aims to meet anticipated renewable industry technical skill demand, enables aspirant engineers from around the country to acquire the qualifications and skills demanded by this sector, particularly BTech and ND electrical engineering and mechatronics, an inter-disciplinary field, combining traditional electrical, electronic, mechanical, control and computer engineering skills, as well as the traditional pure electrical engineering field.