A R13 million skills centre is expected to be completed in the Siyathemba municipal district in October this year.
COMMUNITIES in the Siyathemba Local Municipality, which includes Prieska, Marydale and Niekerkshoop, can look forward to furthering their academic careers when the construction of a R13 million skills centre is expected to be completed in October this year.
The skills centre came about after the Northern Cape Department of Public Works approached the Service Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) for funding.
The senior manager of marketing and communications for Service SETA, Duduzile Mwelase, said the request for the centre from the local municipality and the department aligned with that of Service SETA.
“The Prieska Skills Centre was conceptualised in March 2016 when the Northern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works approached the Service SETA for funding. A funding agreement was concluded between the parties to formalise the relationship in November 2022.
“The skills centre project was approved in response to a request and proposal from the Department of Roads and Public Works on behalf of Siyathemba Local Municipality to address the area’s lack of higher education options. The mandate of the Services SETA is to facilitate skills development. This mandate cannot be fulfilled without training facilities. Therefore, the project goals aligned with the Services SETA’s organisational purpose, including its rural development transformation efforts,” said Mwelase.
He said the Northern Cape Rural Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College will operate the centre and the decision on modules will also be the college’s decision.
“The Northern Cape Rural TVET College will operate the centre, but the complete facility will be transferred to the Department of Roads and Public Works. As part of the partnership, the college will determine the academic offering in consultation with the local municipality and the Department of Roads and Public Works. The college will also determine staff capacity in line with its offerings. The skills centre will be equipped with workshops which each having a classroom capacity of 30 learners.”
She added that although there was a delay after the initial appointed contractor failed to continue with the construction, they believe the newly appointed contractor will keep to the schedule.
“The two-part project included renovations to the hostel and the construction of workshops for the skills centre. An award was made to Phandani Construction Close Corporation following a tender process. The contractual starting date for the project was December 1, 2016. Due to the contractor’s failure to complete the project, the contract was terminated and another contractor, Wezie Civil and Building Contractors Close Corporation, was appointed.
“While the renovation of the hostel was completed in 2018, the construction of the workshops were never completed by the previous contractor. The revised planned for completion date by the newly appointed contractor for the project is October 30, 2023.”
Mwelase said local businesses and the unemployed benefited from the project.
“As part of the contract, the contractor is mandated to employ local labour and to subcontract to local SMMEs. Besides promoting local employment, this also aims to transfer skills and develop skills. The residents welcomed the project warmly and the local business forum is actively involved in its implementation,” she said.
The mayor of Siyathemba Local Municipality, Andrew Phillips, said the skills centre will not only ensure that youths are adequately skilled, but that they can practise those skills on the technical opportunities in the town.
“Our town is developing at a rapid speed. We have many projects and developments in the town that require our young people to be adequately skilled and educated in order to participate in those developments. We will have a great influx of people that will be streaming to our town, but no educational centre where they can sharpen their skills. We are looking forward to the full operation of the centre as we cannot have our youth constantly excluded from opportunities meant to empower locals due to a lack of higher education qualifications.
“There are a number of projects, like the mines and the solar plant, including the green hydrogen project, where our youth will be able to apply the skills and knowledge they have acquired from the skills centre. This will also eliminate the costly burden of parents having to send their children to other provinces to pursue their studies at higher institutions,” Phillips said.