The Eskom Contractors’ Academy, based at Edupark in the city, recently received the top award in Africa in the category ‘Innovative and Creative Partnerships’ at a ceremony held at the Houston Space Centre in Texas.
The initiative is a partnership between Eskom, Edupark and the University of Limpopo, with enterprise development as the main goal with specific focus on skills development, job creation and poverty alleviation.
The Academy was represented by Jo Nel, Chief Executive Officer and Adri Williams, Special Contracts Programme Manager of Edupark, who enthused about the venue and their encounters with a number of astronauts as well as with the former Johnson Space Center director, George Abbey.
According to Nel, the programme trains emerging contractors in fundamental business skills over an eight-month period to succeed and contribute to their long-term sustainability. Students attend a study school on campus once a month for a week. The individual modules are accredited by the relevant Sectoral Education Training Authorities and at the core of the program lies a curriculum presented by the most able facilitators available in the country.
Nel explains that the aim of the academy is to assist, develop and equip emerging contractors with financial, legislative, management, leadership and technical skills to successfully manage and grow a sustainable business. The objectives are to develop emerging contractors in the fundamental business skills program and to equip them with legislative, management, leadership and technical skills to successfully establish and grow sustainable businesses by developing and implementing business plans, budgets, and interpreting financial statements, developing and implementing safety management systems and safety plans for projects, inculcating people management to nurture and develop human resources and to create an understanding of new engineering contracts to successfully tender and procure contracts.
Steph Prinsloo, the programme manager of the initiative, says that the current programme will be completed in March next year, but the intention is to continue the training for at least the next three years.
He quoted some astonishing figures, pointing to the achievements of the programme. “In total, contracts to the value of approximately R3 billion had been awarded by Eskom to students who had completed the programme. The programme is based on the fundamental skills required to conduct business in a highly competitive and global environment,” Prinsloo explained.
Prinsloo stated that, of the 1 311 students who graduated from the Academy since its inception ten years ago, 59% were male, 41% were black women and 50% were in the youth category. For the period 2010 to 2012, the utilisation by Eskom of the students who had completed the programme was 69% with 438 contracts awarded to a total value of R1,196 billion. For 2013 to 2016, students were awarded 184 contracts to the value of R1,26 billion. A recent interrogation of the database revealed an additional figure of R327 million.
Two years ago, in Oslo, Norway, the training partnership also received the Global Award in the category ‘Youth Entrepreneurship’. The programme was the First Runner Up of the 2013 Institute of Management Consultants and Master Coaches of South Africa Project of the Year Award, the Amcham Stars of Africa Award in the Community Development and Welfare category at the 2013 American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) Stars of Africa Awards, the winner of the 3rd Annual Oliver Tambo Socio-Economic Development Award (for leadership and innovation in the pursuit of empowerment and transformation), the winner of the Trialogue Strategic Corporate Social Investment Award for 2016, the 2016 Global Best Awards Africa Gold Winner in Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Skills as well as the 2016 Global Best Awards Overall Global Thematic Winner in Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Skills from the International Education Business Partnership Network (IPN).
To add to these accolades, the programme was also the winner of the 2018 Global Best Awards Africa Gold in Innovative and Creative Partnerships from the International Education Business Partnership Network (IPN), among others.
Story and photo: BARRY VILJOEN