New Studies Highlight Issues of Access
Among the green skills studies underway around the country is the doctoral research by Sibusiswe Mumsie Gumede at Rhodes University. She is exploring mechanisms through which unemployed youth from resource poor backgrounds can gain access into the green economy, and the factors that either enable or constrain their access into green work and learning pathways. Also at Rhodes, Katherine Fourie has completed a study on the factors that enable and prevent workers in the Expanded Public Works Programme from accessing green economy learning and work opportunities.
At UCT, the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) researchers Zoë Vissser and Leigh Cobban are wrapping up a supply and demand study on the skills needed by farmers, extension workers, researchers and lecturers (among others) to make Climate Smart Agriculture work. This study, funded as part of the DEA – DBSA funded Green Skills programme, focussed on selected commodity value chains in the Western Cape (winter grains; pome fruit; and chicken and egg farming). It built on the Smart Agriculture for Climate Resilience (SmartAgri) project, a collaboration between the ACDI and the Western Cape Departments of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs & Development Planning. SmartAgri aims to produce a climate change response framework and implementation plan for Agriculture in the province, towards sustainable, climate smart responses and greater resilience in this sector. Read more here.
The Chemicals industries’ SETA, CHIETA, has asked the Green Skills programme to analyse the value chains in this sector, and to identify associated green skills needs. The first study focused on Surface Coatings (decorative and architectural paints, as well as industrial paints in the marine and automotive industries). The research team – who fortunately did not have to scale off-shore oil rigs for this study – are freelancer Nicola Jenkin and Wits PhD candidate Palesa Molebatsi. Funding for this project has been raised from CHIETA under the banner of the National Environmental Skills Planning Forum. Further proposals in the pipeline include a study in the Petroleum value chain. These studies feature a strong employer advocacy component. For the SETAs, green skills studies need to be more than just extractive research, they also need to engage employers and skills planners in a reflexive process to re-think ‘business as usual’.
A Study on Skills for Conservation at WWF South Africa
In an effort to improve skills planning, Dr Glenda Raven and Lameez Eksteen of WWF-SA embarked on a green skills research programme for the conservation sector. To be as comprehensive as possible in identifying the nature and scope of skills for conservation, the research involved 181 employers in nine categories: national, provincial and local government (metros and district municipalities), private consulting organisations, private nature reserves, NGOs, research institutions and biosphere reserves. Organisational mandates were used to identify all organisations that have a conservation function and conservation occupations as in the Organising Framework for Occupations (OFOs).
Initial data analysis reflects that a lot more needs to be done to transform the conservation sector. Data shows that fewer black and female professionals hold senior management positions. There remains a dominance of white males and white females. The same is true for highly skilled scientific positions such as Ecologist, Marine Biologist and Wildlife Veterinarians. It is only in the elementary and entry level positions where the demographics are aligned to the national statistics.
A draft report is currently in process. In February 2017 it will be shared with stakeholders through consultation meetings. These will be aimed at data verification and to facilitate a closer alignment between skills planning and development in organisations and the national frameworks used by SETAs and Department of Higher Education and Training.
We wish these researchers well with their studies and look forward to the outcomes, and the impacts they may have on skills development, employment and the greening of our economy.