Assessment of training and skills needs for the wind industry in south Africa

To underwrite an investment into establishing a RE training centre in South Africa, in 2012, the GIZ commissioned a study to determine the absolute numbers of various skills that the then-nascent wind energy industry would require.

The research was undertaken by a well-known international consulting firm that postulated a range of jobs numbers needed for the different phases of wind farm development, construction, and operations and maintenance. The numbers derived were encouraging and were part of the justification for a US$10 million investment into the South African Renewable Energy Centre, SARETEC.

However, there were flaws in the research, particularly around factors that were used as justification to inflate the jobs numbers related to “South African labour market inefficiencies” and that were not based on any factual evidence. In reality, the OEM’s went directly to the “ideal” number of technicians, comparable to the most efficient jobs/MW factors in Europe.

Further, the study did not anticipate that the OEM’s would do most of their own training. The number of turbine technicians predicted to be required by industry at the end of 2017, with an installed capacity of 2300MW, was 655. In reality, AltGen’s research found 215 technicians in the market, servicing 2021 MW, one-third of the predicted number.

This, combined with an uneven rollout of wind energy over the period 2016 – 2018, has meant that SARETEC has been unable to justify training further WTST’s.