TNPA to launch marine training centre in Cape Town

(Image from TNPA.)

According to Engineering News:  As part of government’s Operation Phakisa programme aimed at fast-tracking economic growth in the oceans economy, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) is creating a marine training centre at the Port of Cape Town for skills development and job creation.

The new facility will be located at the port’s Safbulk building, which is currently being upgraded. Applications will open from April 2017, with the first intake of students starting technical training at the centre in October 2017.

The centre is aimed at improving the lives of the economically vulnerable by training and certifying youngsters from previously disadvantaged communities, such as the Cape Flats, Dunoon, Joe Slovo, Kraaifontein and Strand, among others.

Marine courses on offer will include the first-ever accredited dock master training programme in Africa, ship- and boat-building courses, a ship maintenance programme, and international accredited lighthouse and navigational systems programmes.

Cape Town port manager Sipho Nzuza said at a business-to-business breakfast last week that TNPA had a responsibility to develop technical skills, train artisans and develop engineers to ensure the sustainability of South Africa’s ports and to stimulate growth.

“The City of Cape Town has a high unemployment rate among the youth, particularly those from previously disadvantaged communities, and, without a proper skills development programme, these young people cannot participate meaningfully in the economic development of the country,” said Nzuza.

The port authority added that skills and competency gaps remain a challenge. The Port of Cape Town, for example, has a workforce of 780-plus employees,15% of whom are at or close to retirement age, which presents a potential loss of important skills in the near future. 

Further, demand is high for people with critical skills, such as dock masters, and TNPA needs to train 51 dock masters across the port system. At the Port of Cape Town, existing dock masters work abnormal hours owing to shortages.

Meanwhile, the ports authority is forging ahead with skills development programmes elsewhere in the country. The Portof Durban, for instance, is accepting its first intake of 18 candidates from the South Durban basin.

The programme consists of two three-year courses – millwright and coded welding – run by the Transnet School of Engineering. A third course on spray painting, which will take place later in the year, also forms part of the Operation Phakisa technical training offering.

Transnet also oversees the Transnet Academy, which offers comprehensive training pertaining to maritime, rail and pipelines. In the last three years, 492 engineering bursaries were awarded to undergraduates, masters and doctoral students.

The rail, port and pipeline authority says it plans to spend in excess of R1.1bn on bursaries in the next seven years.