According to SAnews Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has told Eskom’s aspiring nuclear plant operators that they are capable of helping their families break out of the cycle of poverty.
The Minister addressed the power utility’s executives and trainees at the launch of the 2016 Eskom Nuclear Operator Pipeline Project at the Koeberg Power Station in Cape Town on Thursday.
“You can break out of poverty. I always say in my whole family, I am the one to break them out of poverty. My mom was a domestic worker, my dad was a truck driver. I am the one who started working as a teacher because I could go to college … [and] I could help to give my parents a better life.
“And that is what your role is. You have to break what is happening in your parents’ lives and that is the most important thing,” she said.
On 1 May 2016, about 100 young recruits started the flagship nuclear operator training programme at Koeberg Power Station.
As part of the training programme, 100 young qualified artisans, most of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds across the country, will be exposed to world-class nuclear training in the Western Cape for a period of five years before qualifying as Nuclear Plant Operators or related career equivalent.
The Koeberg Power Station is the only nuclear power station outside of the United States of America, whose training programme is accredited with the National Academy of Nuclear Training. This ensures that the power utility’s training programme is of the highest standard.
As the only nuclear power station in Africa, the licensed reactor operators at Koeberg possess a scarce skill.
The intake of 100 young people will be trained and will provide a platform for developing a robust nuclear operator pipeline for Koeberg.
“Eskom’s Nuclear Project 100 will provide a platform for developing a robust nuclear operator pipeline for South Africa.
“The programme … aims to build a path to ensure that there are sufficient local nuclear resources to service the country’s present and future nuclear needs.
“After the five-year period, trainees will qualify as nuclear plant operators or will enter related career equivalents.
“What is inspiring is that approximately 95% of students are 35 years and younger, and about 40% are black females from various parts of the country,” the Minister said.
Eskom Board Chairperson, Dr Baldwin Ngubane, said the power utility supports national initiatives like the National Development Plan to build skills among the youth of South Africa, for Eskom as well as the country’s needs.
“The country’s new nuclear build will require additional resources for operations and the nuclear operator training programme is geared towards ensuring that the South African youth, who has aspirations to access a career path in nuclear, has a chance at realising his or her dreams,” he said.