By Sizakele nduli
The Chemical Industries Education and Training Authority (CHIETA) will open a new smart skills centre in September. Babanango, a small rural town near Melmoth in KwaZulu-Natal, will be home to the third smart skills centre in the country. The services of the smart skills centres include access to data and training courses aimed at job seekers and helping start-ups and SMMEs grow their operations.
CHIETA CEO Yershen Pillay hopes that these centres will tackle the skills shortage by providing businesses with important digital skills. “Smart skills centres will provide digital boardrooms, digitised training experiences such as virtual reality training for welders and chemical operators, virtual interview facilities, free training courses with credentials, and many more digitised skills development and training programmes in collaboration with institutions of higher learning,” Pillay said.
The centres also provide innovative ways for local businesses to access work areas such as digitised boardrooms and connect to services using affordable or subsidised workspaces. According to CHIETA, the centres are fully automated and feature equipment that is in line with 4IR training requirements. CHIETA plans to establish these centres in all nine provinces by 2025, especially in rural areas. “The strategic location of the smart skills centres makes them accessible to remote communities that will ultimately benefit from the digitised training programmes for rural masses, and also eases the cost burden of transport and data for poor learners,” said Pillay.
The centres are a CHIETA flagship which is designed to help give remote communities access to technology and to usher in an era of skills development and training. The first one opened Saldanha Bay in the Western Cape and the second one is based at the Port Elizabeth TVET College Iqhayiya campus in Gqeberha. “Each centre is an exemplar for excellence in technology education and research, enabling the development of high caliber solutions and the generation of business opportunities that drive innovation as part of these rural areas’ socioeconomic development,” the CEO said in a statement.