Ninety-three technical graduates have been deployed to provide much needed support to some of the country’s most distressed municipalities.
Among the graduates are 46 civil engineers, 16 town and regional planners, 13 electrical engineers, 10 environmental scientists, seven project and construction managers and one geographic information systems practitioner.
The group was recruited by the Department of Cooperative Governance’s Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent’s Young Graduates Programme.
Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Zweli Mkhize introduced the graduates during a briefing session in Kempton Park on Tuesday. They are among 150 recruited by the department during the 2018/19 financial year.
Last year, the department bemoaned the large number of dysfunctional and distressed municipalities and provided support such as governance and administration, financial management, infrastructure development, political management and other critical areas requiring attention.
“We emphasised the need to provide technical advice and support to municipalities so that they can be able to provide much needed services to the people – such water and electricity, fill potholes, cut grass and alien vegetation on the verge of roads and promote local economic development and job creation, among others.
“In this regard, we have developed several training and human resource development programmes to support municipalities and build a technical skills pipeline for local government,” said Mkhize.
The Minister said infrastructure programmes were also being used to address the spatial defects of apartheid town planning that detrimentally affected the majority groups.
“The work that needs to be done, which requires your skills as young professionals, includes bulk electricity and water supply networks, water and sewer treatment works, access roads, storm water bridges, municipal building constructions, sidewalks and other critical projects, which enable the smooth functioning of the municipalities.
“You have your work cut out for you indeed as young graduates and professionals,” he said.
Through the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA), Cogta currently drives six skills development programmes. These include the Young Graduate Programme; Experiential Learnership Programme; Apprenticeship Programme; Technical Bursary Scheme; technical skills training for municipal officials and an artisan recognition of prior learning programme.
The 93 graduates introduced on Tuesday fall under the young graduate programme and the experiential learnership programme.
The young graduate programme is a two- to three-year programme aimed at providing opportunities to young graduates registered as candidates with professional bodies to acquire work exposure and structured mentorship towards registration as professionals.
The latter programme focuses on learners in the technical fields relevant to municipalities. Trainees are provided with the opportunity to gain work experience and on-the-job training so that they can complete their studies. At the same time, Cogta gets to supports low and medium capacity municipalities.
“Through these programmes, we are investing in youth development while also advancing the country’s Municipal Infrastructure Development Programme. Infrastructure development is a doorway to investment in our country. It is a key enabler of economic growth,” Mkhize said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, during his State of the Nation Address earlier this month, emphasised the strengthening of technical capacity in government for more project efficiency. He said government will focus on building a pool of engineers, project managers, spatial planners and quantity surveyors.
“When he announced the economic stimulus package last year, the President also emphasized infrastructure investment, particularly in municipalities. Infrastructure development is a key aspect in enhancing efficiency in local government, to attract investment and provide reliable services to the people and contribute to their socio-economic development,” Mkhize said.