Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has accepted an offer by trade union Solidarity to help fill a critical skills shortage at Eskom.
Solidarity CEO Dr Dirk Hermann made the offer to Gordhan in a letter dated 25 May 2022, citing Gordhan’s recent comment in Parliament that Eskom “lacks engineering and technical skills.”
Hermann said Eskom’s “radical transformation programme,” which has been implemented since 2000, has reduced critical skills at the embattled state-owned power utility.
“In most cases, those skilled yet retrenched Eskom employees, who are also South African citizens, are still available to render services to Eskom, when or if required. We therefore need your office to furnish us with a list of the specific skills that are required, and to kindly do so at your earliest convenience,” he wrote.
Gordhan’s response to Solidarity
In a response dated 14 July 2022, Gordhan thanked Solidarity for the offer. “The type of engineering and technical skills required by Eskom include Power Station Engineers (mechanical, electrical, nuclear, system, maintenance), senior artisans, and plant operators (coal and nuclear),” he added.
“Due to the urgency of assistance required from Eskom, can you kindly provide the list of names of engineers and technical experts that can be deployed to Eskom to address the generation performance challenges facing the company.”
Eskom has battled to supply adequate electricity to South Africa in recent years amid rising demand and frequent generating unit breakdowns, which have been partly blamed on the skills shortage.
Speaking to News24 on Wednesday (20 July), Hermann said Solidarity has already compiled a list of 1,100 engineers and will now establish a panel to narrow down the number to 100.
“We will look at people with decades of experiences, often with more than one qualification – those with the most sought-after skills available in the country. These top 100 change agents will have the ability to make tangible contributions to turn Eskom around,” he reportedly said.
Last week, Solidarity also petitioned Parliament to take urgent steps to resolve South Africa’s energy crisis and “remove obstacles preventing unlimited private electricity generation.”
Addressing the inaugural Black Industrialists and Exporters Conference on Wednesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to announce a package of measures to accelerate new capacity generation.
Eskom has consistently stated that it needs 4,000 to 6,000MW of new capacity to end load shedding.