Young South Africans have been urged to consider careers in the chemicals sector by their peers in the sector, who believe the opportunities are vast. As we mark Youth Month, several young people who’ve been assisted by CHIETA, the chemical industries’ Seta, say they believe the chemicals sector can help South Africa position itself as an industrial powerhouse on the continent.
Citing the American Chemistry Council, Camagwini Faleni who studied a Diploma in Analytical Chemistry at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology says, “More than 96% of all manufactured goods are directly touched by the chemicals sector. Through chemicals we can make the world better, take for examples pharmaceuticals, so be enthusiastic about your chemistry journey.”
Faleni has just finished his Work Integrated Learning (WIL) programme at Fine Chemicals Corporation, with CHIETA’s funding assistance. Lilitha Sobuza who studied Chemical Engineering and is currently doing WIL says, “I’d advise young people to look into the chemicals sector, especially young women, as there are lots of growth opportunities.”
Tebogo Moloto who studied a BSc (Hons) in Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering at the University of Cape Town, secured his WIL at Astron Energy with CHIETA’s assistance. He has this advice, “We as youth can identify sectors and skills to grow industrialisation and job creation in South Africa. If we study these fields and apply our expertise to these industries, it could make a difference to driving the development of our country.”
CHIETA’s investment in youth-centred programmes is reflected in the range of initiatives implemented over the past financial year. These are learnerships, apprenticeships, work-integrated learning, bursaries, targeted skills and entrepreneurial development programmes, as well as support for start-ups and SMMEs.
Yershen Pillay, CEO of CHIETA, explains, “Our new vision means we’ve adjusted our purpose to be broader than simply skills development and training. We’re now in the business of sustainable livelihoods. This incorporates identifying skills gaps and finding ways to close these gaps through training initiatives in partnership with higher education institutions, public sector entities, training providers, and private organisations.”
Pillay says that through CHIETA’s impactful programmes, “we plan to support 10 068 learners in the current financial year and a total of 50 340 over the next five years.” CHIETA is supporting 17 221 new jobs in the chemical industries sector, plus a further 6 567 this year alone, and investing R66.1m in leadership and internships, which have supported 2 500 first-time job seekers and young artisans.
Other CHIETA initiatives include an investment of R5 million into new and emerging technologies for skills development, including a virtual reality training facility for chemical operators. By 2025, CHIETA plans to support the growth and sustainability of 2 000 SMEs and 200 cooperatives.