TVET colleges contribute to the renewable energy revolution

New subject integrated into national curriculum

by Tanja Merensky-Hartinger

South Africa enjoys some of the best sunshine in the world all year round and could be the next photovoltaic superstar. We also have substantial wind potential, especially along the coastal areas of the Western and Eastern Cape.  Yet, South Africa's indigenous energy resource base is dominated by coal with around 77% of South Africa's primary energy needs being provided by coal. The government has, however, committed itself to reducing its reliance on coal down to 65% by 2030 and to also increase its renewable energy output to expand the energy generation capacity of the country. Additionally, it has committed itself to investing in the green economy, particularly in renewable energy, and nearly 300,000 new jobs could be created in South Africa by 2020 in sectors related to climate and the environment.

South Africa thus needs to now focus on skills development in renewable energy technologies, as currently the country is faced with a vast shortage of skilled labour in this sector. To address this issue, The Skills for Green Jobs (S4GJ) Programme, together with the South African Departments of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Science and Technology (DST) jointly developed and implemented a number of activities: A new NC(V) optional subject called Renewable Energy Technologies (RET) has been developed, lecturer training took place to educate lecturers on the renewable energy curriculum and student textbooks as well as lecturer guides have been developed. The subject will fall under the Electrical Infrastructure Construction (EIC) Programme and will take 3 years to complete.

We are very happy that the new subject has been received so positively and the following colleges will offer it from January 2015 onwards:

1. Boland

2. Eastcape Midlands

3. Northlink

4. Port Elizabeth

5. Ingwe

6. Umfolozi

7. West Coast

We wish the 500 first-time students of this new and exciting subject all the best for their studies! May they use their future knowledge of renewable energy to make South Africa a greener and more energy-efficient country!

If you would like to find out more about the RET subject, you are welcome to contact the Skills for Green Jobs Team at


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