By: Tebogo Mokwena
The Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) has launched the CHIETA Smart Skills Centre, which will provide support for small businesses, in Saldanha Bay. The centre, which cost R3 million to construct, is the result of a Memorandum of Understanding between CHIETA and the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ). It is based on a partnership between CHIETA, the Saldanha Bay IDZ, the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa, and the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Seta.
The fully automated centre is one of nine smart hubs that CHIETA will be developing across the country. Its services include data and training courses for business startups, SMMEs that wish to grow their operations, and job seekers. CHIETA CEO Yershen Pillay described the centre as a game changer in skills development and training, saying it would make it easier for rural communities to access free data and wifi services, as well as basic digital skills and 4IR-related training.
“What makes the centre unique is its accessibility to rural communities and the virtual reality or VR-based training for artisans,” Pillay said. “The smart centre will include a digital boardroom for SMMEs and cooperatives to conduct meetings with potential clients. “The centre will also offer skills programmes in the areas of 5G cellular networking, data analytics, technopreneurship, Java programming and cybersecurity,” Pillay said that CHIETA had committed to enrolling 50,000 learners for digital skills programmes through the centre by March 2025.
This will ensure that people are equipped with the necessary skills to excel in the workplace,” he noted. “CHIETA’s aim is to increase the number of sustainable businesses and available talent, ensuring the economy grows by providing relevant, technology-driven services whilst meeting the needs of the Saldanha Bay IDZ investors, workforce, supply chain demands and industry.”
Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande said that the hub was part of the department’s bigger plan to revolutionalise digital skills development in all nine provinces and to cater for SMME development. “The centre will be an exemplar for excellence in tech education, as well as research and development,” he said. “We all know that South Africa strives for high calibre solutions and the generation of business that will open opportunities to drive innovation to stimulate our country’s socioeconomic development. “Indeed, through this centre, Saldanha Bay’s socioeconomic development will not be the same anymore,” Nzimande also said.