Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) has completed the construction of its Maritime Training Centre at the Port of Cape Town and the institution will run its first courses in September.
TNPA refurbished an underutilised building at the port to house the centre, which will offer marine skills development programmes and apprenticeships to youth from previously disadvantaged communities and employees within Transnet.
The project is part of TNPA’s role as a lead implementer of Government’s Operation Phakisa programme which aims to unlock the economic potential of the country’s Oceans Economy.
Maritime skills development is crucial for the achievement of ambitious targets within the programme.
Cape Town port manager, Mpumi Dweba-Kwetana, said: “As an agency of the state, we have a responsibility to contribute positively to the economy of the country by providing proper skills development programmes, training artisans and developing engineers to ensure the sustainability of our ports and to stimulate growth of the maritime economy.
“These skills will ensure that young people can participate meaningfully in the economic development of the country.”
Marine courses on offer at the new centre will include the accredited dock master training programme, ship and boat building courses, a ship maintenance programme and internationally accredited lighthouse and navigational systems programmes.
The Maritime Training Centre will leverage existing partnerships with institutions such as the Transnet Maritime School of Excellence (MSoE), False Bay College, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and Northlink College.
Key training programmes will include general purpose rating, berthing master, master port operations, skipper port operations, able seafarer deck, ordinary seafarer engine, ordinary seafarer deck, fitter and turner, electrician and information communication and technology courses.
Demand is high for critical skills such as dock masters who often work abnormal hours due to shortages. TNPA needs to train more than 50 dock masters across the port system.
Transnet runs a number of programmes to address these skills gaps.
The Transnet Academy offers comprehensive training pertaining to maritime, rail and pipelines.
There are also programmes for young professionals in training, engineers in training and technicians in training, as well as marine cadet and marine pilot training programmes, including bursaries and workplace experience.
“Through the Maritime Training Centre, we aspire to develop the skills of the South African workforce, increase the levels of investment in education and training and use the workplace as an active learning environment,” said Ms Dweba-Kwetana.
She also said TNPA employees would be provided with opportunities to acquire new skills, in addition to the centre being used to improve the employment prospects of previously disadvantaged persons.