DESPITE concerns over SA's ability to produce the necessary skills as Transnet spends R300bn on a capital programme over the next seven years, CEO Brian Molefe says there will be no shortages and, in fact, the state-owned company will produce "excess skills capacity".
One of the biggest concerns of the engineering sector, a key skills-base for infrastructure development, is the shortage of new skills, according to a quarterly survey conducted by financial services company PPS and released in June.
Speaking at a breakfast briefing in Port Elizabeth on Friday, Mr Molefe said Transnet would spend R7.6bn on training over the seven-year period, and R4bn of this would be on new employees. At the peak of the expansion programme, 220,000 jobs would be created, and there was a drive for skills and capacity building, he said.
Mr Molefe said Transnet was "training beyond our skills requirements", with the company planning to train 2,000 artisans every year, despite needing only 600 a year. The surplus would be "released back into the economy", with vital skills.
Transnet would increase its engineering capacity and train 317 technicians, and would have 2,000 apprentices "at all times", he said.
Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande revealed last week that R2.5bn from the National Skills Fund was to be invested in 50 public further training and education colleges, with a focus on skills development.
Mr Molefe said there were plans to establish a school of maritime studies in SA, and Transnet was "in discussion" with the Sri Lankan government on a partnership.
This was an "opportunity to create a significant academy for the entire continent", as more than 90% of Africans in those fields had been trained overseas, he said.
There were also plans for a consolidated school of rail to address skills needs.
Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber CEO Kevin Hustler said that based on the region's experience of building ports and the sports stadium, there were sufficient skills for the infrastructure programme.