Weekly Feature: Greening South Africa's economy for growth and jobs
Establishing a green economy has become more and more important in South Africa. In 2013, then South African Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa released a report which stated that improving the management of natural resources and investing in the environment could not only significantly increase the country’s crop yields and the availability of water, but would also create a considerably high amount of additional jobs.
Enlarge image Installing a solar water heating unit on the roof of a home outside Cape Town (© picture-alliance/dpa) “This study demonstrates that a green economy approach, which takes into account South Africa’s economic, social and environmental aspirations, can deliver as much growth as a business-as-usual model but in a more sustainable manner. The report’s findings will help guide the country’s future policies and investments, as it works towards achieving its sustainable development and poverty eradication goals”, Molewa said.
Until 2020, the creation of about 300,000 new jobs is envisaged to take place in the sector relevant for climate and environment in South Africa. In order to achieve this objective, the country not only needs new technologies, but also must establish new training and further education programmes. An economic and social transition towards sustainable development requires a new mindset, as well as occupational and cross-occupational skills adequate to support the transformation process.
Promoting Skills for Green Jobs in South Africa
Enlarge image Wind turbines at the Darling Wind Farm in South Africa's Western Cape Province (© picture-alliance/dpa)
Having recognized this necessity, the German Development Agency (GIZ) launched its Skills for Green Jobs Initiative (S4GJ) in 2012 on behalf of the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), partnering with the South African Departments of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Science and Technology (DST).
The initiative aims at progressively enabling the work force to meet the labour market demands of a green South African economy. In addition to pursuing the cross-cutting approach of raising awareness for climate and environmental issues, the programme addresses two main fields of intervention. It helps to develop labour market oriented skills by enhancing existing skills development programmes, developing required new green short- and long-term programmes, and providing further training to lecturers and instructors for delivering green skills development programmes in public and private TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) colleges. As a second field of intervention, it aims at promoting green technologies and knowledge transfer in private small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME).
The Green College Initiative
Among the numerous institutions receiving support in the course of the Skills for Green Jobs Initiative are TVET institutions in general and TVET colleges in particular. These Institutions are considered vitally important for preparing the workforce to meet green skills requirements and for making their students “ambassadors” of greening, who use and pass on green skills in business and private life. GIZ has implemented its Green College Initiative since 2013.
Enlarge image Participants at recent Green College Initiative workshop (© GIZ) The initiative is implemented within the broader programme “Skills for Green Jobs” and is based on the conviction that the mere training of technical skills is not sufficient. Technical skills should be supplemented by raising awareness and supporting a change of mindset, both in the instructors and in the students at the colleges.
Focus on renewable energy and energy-resource efficiency
In line with the S4GJ project's overall focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency and resource efficiency, five strategic dimensions can be identified within the Green College Initiative concept:
- A Green Campus providing for an efficient and responsible environmental resources management system;
- A Green Curriculum providing for the integration of green skills requirements into existing learning programmes;
- A Green Community providing for the extension of the colleges’ green activities to community level;
- Green Research providing for support of research institutes and the industry in order to advance green innovations, and
- A Green Culture providing for the strengthening of values, ethical standards and behaviour that respect ecological resources.
The Greening Colleges Initiative was designed as a GIZ Human Capacity Development project and set up for one year. Initially, a number of interested TVET colleges were selected to participate in the programme, and at each college, a project manager and project team were appointed to be in charge of the management and coordination of the respective college's greening activities. Throughout the course of the year, they received coaching and training, assistance in the identification and implementation of greening activities, as well as assistance in preparing and conducting respective events.
Green College Initiative workshop
Karola Swart from GIZ is satisfied with the initiative's progress thus far. "Originally, the Green College Initiative was set up to comprise only a very few TVET colleges in order to first launch the programme on a small scale before further expanding it in case it has proven successful. However, more and more colleges signaled a strong interest in the initiative, so that DHET together with GIZ decided to expand the project to a greater number of participating colleges already at an earlier stage.
Currently, eleven colleges, accounting for 20 percent of all public colleges from all over South Africa, are part of the initiative, and this trend continues to rise. This is a very positive signal for the overall interest in taking part in the greening of South Africa’s economy."
After the term of one year, the initiative's achievements and results will be assessed and reflected upon during a conference in mid-May. On the basis of the positive experiences so far, new ideas will be gathered on the future of the initiative and how South African organisations can play a role in supporting and carrying it forward. This could be the kick-off of a nation-wide programme for greening South Africa’s colleges and future generations of employees.