Kraaifontein youth earmarked for employment

The main entrance at the Port of Cape Town.

Aspiring and unemployed engineers and artisans from Kraaifontein and other poor neighbourhoods will be among the first to benefit when the Port of Cape Town accepts its first intake at a training centre to tackle unemployment.

The centre is a key part of the state’s Operation Phakisa to harness the ocean economy, says Transnet National Ports Authority’s (TNPA) spokesman Coen Birkenstock.

President Jacob Zuma announced Operation Phakisa in 2014 as a driving force to achieve the goals of the National Development Plan by 2030.

The training centre is still to be built at the port’s Safbulk building and applications open in April next year, with technical training starting in October 2017.

“It is hoped that the centre will improve the lives of the economically vulnerable by training and certifying youngsters from previously disadvantaged communities such as Kraaifontein, the Cape Flats, Dunoon, Joe Slovo, and Strand,” Mr Birkenstock said, adding that the programme was created to tackle poverty, unemployment and inequality.

Courses will include accredited training for dock masters and programmes in ship building, ship maintenance and international lighthouse and navigational systems.

Cape Town port manager Sipho Nzuza said their responsibility had been to develop technical skills and train artisans, while stimulating growth at the port.

He said Cape Town had a high youth unemployment rate and the port authority battled to find the employees with the right skills.

The TNPA had looked to the Statistic SA’s 2011 census to help it find communities in Cape Town with some of the highest youth unemployment figures.

The first intake will see between 50 and 213 students trained through the various programmes.

The port is forging partnerships with other training institutions to help with its programme.

For example, Mr Nzuza said, False Bay College, had been touted to run courses in boat and ship building.

Mr Nzuza said the Port of Cape Town has more than 780 employees, and 15 percent of them are at or close to retirement age, which presented “a potential future loss of important skills”.

Dock masters at the port are having to work peculiarly long hours because there is a shortage of these employees: the TNPA needs to train 51 of them for the Cape Town port.

In Durban, for example, Mr Nzuza said TNPA had already forged ahead with the programmes to support the requirements of the Operation Phakisa programme.

“We are at the coalface of global competitiveness working in the port environment. Higher skills increase the economic and social competitiveness of a country, while reducing unemployment, poverty and inequality.

“Offering blue-collar skills to previously disadvantaged youth can enable them to become employable and start participating meaningfully in the mainstream economy,” Mr Nzuza said.