The fourth edition of the Learners Focus Week (LFW) in Energy was held at the University of Limpopo, Turfloop Campus, in Polokwane from 30 June to 05 July 2014. The LFW is an initiative of the Department of Energy (DoE), with support from various energy and youth development stakeholders across South Africa.
The main aim of the career guidance programme is to promote skills development amongst the youth and encourage them take up studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to help alleviate the problem of scarce skills faced by the country, especially in the energy sector.
The provinces of Mpumalanga, Gauteng, North West and Limpopo were all represented at the event where, with the assistance of their educators, learners presented projects illustrating possible solutions to the energy challenges experienced in their communities. The conceptualisation and demonstrations of these various energy-based projects were, alone, an indication of the potential that exists in this group of learners, who, with proper guidance, could propel them to realise their intended career goals and job opportunities.
The second part of the programme required learners to take a STEM-related quiz, organised and facilitated by National Research Foundation (NRF) l South African Agency of Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), which tested the learners’ aptitude of these subjects. In the third part of the programme learners visited the exhibition stands to learn about various companies in South Africa and to find out what sort of careers (or support) are on offer at these companies should they consider higher education studies that lead towards energy-related fields, such as nuclear researcher/technologist. SAASTA, through the NPEP programme, welcomed the opportunity of disseminating crucial information on nanotechnology and other technologies such as hydrogen and fuel cell technologies, space science and biotechnology (with emphasis on energy related applications), and how these technologies will improve the quality of life for all South Africans. Learners who did very well in both exercises – the energy-based projects and quiz – were rewarded with prizes such as bursaries, laptops, i-pods and excursions to different energy companies in Gauteng. These learners received their prizes at a glittering ceremony held at Meropa Casino on 04 July 2014, attended by, amongst others, the MEC of Education: Limpopo and Deputy Minister: Energy. SAASTA’s sponsorship included organising excursions for the top two learners per province (who presented projects) to energy and non-energy based companies such as ESKOM, South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA), National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), MINTEK and iThemba LABS etc.
SAASTA would like to thank the following stakeholders who were either part of the planning and or facilitating process of the career guidance programme: Department of Energy (DoE), Limpopo Department of Basic Education (DoBE), Edu-Loan, National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), , Central Energy Fund (CEF), NNR, Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA), ESKOM, SIEMENS, PetroSA, Beyond Petroleum (BP), SASOL, ENGEN, SHELL, CHEVRON, TOTAL, CENTLEC, NERSA, NECSA, CSIR, NRF l SAASTA and the University of Limpopo.