TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT

Operating Environment

Umgeni Water operates in a challenging and often complex environment with natural, social, legislative and economic aspects. It is imperative for the organisation to be sustainable, that the operating environment is understood and factors that could affect the way the organisation operates are responded to. Understanding and adequately responding to the fluid nature of the operating environment is paramount to the ability of the organisation to deliver on its strategic objectives. For this reason Umgeni Water has identified significant issues in the macro and micro environment which are likely to affect its sustainability (further information on Umgeni Water’s Corporate Business Plan may be found in www.umgeni.co.za).

Skills Shortage

The shortage of skills is affecting every sector in the country and therefore requires innovative ways to minimize its impact. What the organisation experiences the most, is the problem of skills gap, with many incumbents with the scarce skills fresh from institutions of higher learning coming into the mainstream without the requisite experience, for example, operator or artisan experience. The combined skills of the more experienced staff cannot be replicated overnight and hence there is a need to retain them whilst fast-track training of the new incumbents.

The HR strategy priority 6: which talks to staff development, key driver number one emphasises the need to ensure that suitable training and development opportunities are available to all members of staff to enable them to develop personally and contribute fully to the implementation of the organisation’s strategies and business plan. The challenge that faces the organisation is the shortage of skills in the area of water purification operation. It is proper that Umgeni Water builds the capacity to sustain this industry. This can be achieved by scouting young people with relevant academic knowledge to develop them to gain required skills for this industry.

Umgeni Water Human Resource Plan.

A convert strategy will be used where critical skills in the organisation can be redirected through training and development of existing employees using internal skills development strategies. The convert strategy will focus on core, scarce and critical skills through retraining. This will be achieved through learnerships, training interventions and recognition of prior learning.

A create strategy will be used to create a skills pool that would address future skills demands in the organisation. This will be achieved through awarding bursaries to students for skills identified and more rigorous implementation of graduate recruitment and development programmes as mechanisms for addressing the core, critical and scarce skills needed by the organisation. The Assisted Education programme will also be used to create a pool of skills of existing employees within the identified areas of critical and scarce skills, while assessment and review of the mentorship programme for graduate engineers will be undertaken to assess its success as a skills development and retention strategy. The organisation has plans to provide a range of training for managers to equip them to coach, empower and lead staff effectively and provide an environment which motivates staff.

A critical issue for Umgeni Water is to better align training and development programmes in support of the corporate strategies and plans and will achieve this by developing a database/register of scarce skills that would inform decision-making and commence with a formal competency assessment process aligned with the organisation’s core business systems and job functions, to be completed over a two-year period.

The current interim workforce plan will address areas of vulnerability regarding skills development at Umgeni. It will also address short-term critical, core and scarce skills gaps in the organisation and strategies to close the current gaps, whilst also planning for the future.

Staff Skills Development

Umgeni Water offers its employees training and development and assisted education programmes which are aligned to skills and competency needs of the business plan and individual’s development plan, as well as, the workplace skills plan.

Staff skills development is essential to enable staff to excel in their individual and organisational roles and functions and deliver on the organisation’s strategy. The organisation’s recruitment and retention interventions are intended to ensure the organisation has sufficient flexibility to obtain the skills that it needs to implement its business plan. The approach includes options for buying, making, converting and creating skills, whilst continuing to ensure diversity is increased in under-represented areas. The convert strategy focuses on core, scarce and critical skills through retraining. This is achieved through learnerships, training interventions and recognition of prior learning.

Bursary Programme

Umgeni Water offers bursaries to second year University students in the fields of Civil Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Finance.

A create strategy will be used to create a skills pool that would address future skills demands in the organisation. This will be achieved through:

  • Continuing with the current bursary programme and awarding further bursaries to achieve a total of ten bursaries for skills identified, namely, civil engineering, mechanical engineering and finance.
  • More vigorously ring fencing eighteen positions in the structure for implementation of graduate development programmes as mechanisms for addressing the core, critical and scarce skills needed by the organisation.

Applications are to be forwarded to the Skills Development Facilitator every October of the current year for consideration for the following academic year.

In-service Training and Graduate Training

Umgeni Water offers in-service training to students from local Universities of Technology and graduate training to students from local Universities. University graduates are given training to afford them work experience especially in the fields of Scientific Studies. In-service training that Umgeni Water offers runs for a one year period whilst graduate training runs for a two year period. Students are interviewed and placed at a plant where they will be exposed to the plant operations as per their logbook. The in-service training is a requirement for graduation by the University of Technology hence the use of logbook. Umgeni Water employs in total a number of 13 in-service trainees and 5 graduate trainees per annum, and once their one or two year term expire; the learners are then contractually free to look for permanent employment elsewhere.

Students are offered In-Service and Graduate training in the fields of Analytical Chemistry, Microbiology, Biotechnology (Laboratories), Water Quality and Environment, Chemical Engineering (Waterworks), Electrical, Instrumentation & Mechanical Engineering (Workshops). The Talent and OD Unit prepares a budget for the intake of in-service and graduate trainees per any given financial year.

In the quest for Umgeni Water to achieve its strategic and operational objectives, the right skills sets and the right quality of skills need to exist. With global competition and limited supply of scarce skills resources like engineers, artisans and technicians, there is a high value placed on these resources. This necessitates accurate planning and development of workforce so as to have sufficient resources at the appropriate level and to be available at the right time. Umgeni Water is a technical organisation and for attainment of these critical and scarce water skills therefore it is important that Umgeni Water builds capacity of these skills and retains them. The proposed extended programme of in-service training will assist Umgeni Water in achieving that.

Learnerships

Learnerships are a central mechanism for achieving transformation in the national skills profile. A learnership is an effective way for learners to get an NQF qualification while working full-time and gaining experience in their chosen field of study. A learnership is not a qualification, but rather a structured off-the-job and on-the-job learning experience that leads to a qualification. Learnerships have replaced apprenticeships. Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) register learnerships with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) once a demand has been identified in the sector. In the water sector, this has been done by EWSETA and Umgeni Water for the past three years has implemented the following  Learnership programmes prepared by the water and energy sector:

  • Water and Wastewater purification process operations NQF Level 2 - 4
  • Electrical Engineering NQF Level 2 - 4
  • Mechanical Engineering NQF Level 2 – 4
  • Measurement Control and Instrumentation NQF Level 2 - 4

Umgeni Water has implemented learnerships for s18.1 (employed learners) and s18.2 (unemployed learners). Seventy percent (70%) of the learners are female.

Umgeni Water also plans to:

  • Continue to develop and complete thirty-seven external learnerships and fifteen internal staff learnerships, in Water and Wastewater treatment, and
  • Extend its programmes to a total of seventy learners enrolled in the fields of Electrical, Instruments, Mechanical Engineering and Water and Wastewater Treatment.

The Learnerships programme will utilise forty percent (40%) of the training and development budget. For enquiries please contact:

The Learnerships programme will utilise forty percent (40%) of the training and
development budget.
For enquiries please contact:

Skills Development Facilitator
P O Box 9
PIETERMARITZBURG
3200
Office:   033 3411346
Facsimile:  033 3411086