The Chemical Industries Education & Training Authority (CHIETA) is set to partner with the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) to help bridge the digital skills gap in the district amongst small businesses and communities.
CHIETA recently signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a fully automated Smart Skills Centre in the region. CHIETA CEO Yershen Pillay said that additional projects were planned across the country, especially as they would benefit SMMEs. “This Smart Skills Centre is the pilot project and we anticipate many more in rural communities across the country,” he said.
“A big drive for setting up centres like this is the potential they hold in helping small and medium enterprises in the surrounding areas. Technology that we may take for granted, such as computers, printers and internet access, will now be available for emerging enterprises in the Saldanha Bay area.”
The centre will be set up next to the Saldanha Bay IDZ office. The memorandum of understanding lays out the extent of the collaboration, including the logistics of training programmes and an implementation timeline. The initiative will reportedly provide considerable scope and functionality to the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone SME collaboration initiative, which aims to establish a competitive oil and gas maritime sector.
Pillay said that the partnership would help equip people with the skills and expertise so that they could productively participate in the economy. Also, TVET colleges and schools would benefit from the centre as they would have access to a variety of free digital learning programmes. “The Fourth Industrial Revolution era requires every individual and entity to be competitive,” Pillay noted.
“It is vital that we focus attention on youth and emerging enterprises and do what we can to give these individuals a boost so that they are equipped to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital economy.” He said CHIETA looked forward to working with the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development Zone, which he believed would change the path of residents and businesses.
CHIETA is also supporting other projects. It has invested R3.5-million to advance vaccine development at the Walter Sisulu and North-West universities. CHIETA and the Walter Sisulu University signed a memorandum of agreement to conduct pre-clinical trials to test the efficacy of candidate Covid-19 vaccines that have already been developed. Pillay said vaccine development was a scarce skill in Africa and a local vaccine may hold considerable commercial and social impact value.