Eskom’s Medupi Leadership Initiative (MLI), aimed at helping local unskilled and semi-skilled workers find employment after completion of the power station project near Lephalale, is setting the precedent as the largest post-construction work opportunity programme of its kind in South Africa.

Medupi presents the first-ever work opportunity for many of the more than 17,000 workers on site at the largest construction project in the southern hemisphere. Eskom launched the MLI together with contractors, organised labour, local government and traditional leaders in April 2013 in an attempt to extend the benefit of employment beyond the project and to avoid community destabilisation following the project’s completion.

“The MLI is the first project of this nature and scale to be undertaken in the South African construction industry,’’ Roman Crookes, general manager of the Medupi power station project, says. “It’s a model that could be replicated at other large infrastructure projects.’’

The MLI is a collaboration between Eskom and its key partners in the Medupi project, including Murray & Roberts, Aveng, Alstom Africa, Hitachi Africa, Basil Read, LPS Consortium, Lesedi and Actom.

The initiative comprises job-enabling opportunities including:

  • Financial literacy course (ability to manage personal finances).
  • Drive your life course (take control of own lives; understand options post project).
  • Further education and training courses.
  • Small, medium and micro enterprise skills (SMME skills development and expansion of hub to provide incubation office space to entrepreneurs).

The MLI also comprises job opportunity initiatives including:

  • Drylands (i.e. jobs in environment restoration; rhino-poaching prevention).
  • Corporate and social investment (construction/refurbishment of community facilities).
  • Lephalale local municipality projects.

As of 3 October, 402 workers completed the financial literacy course and 162 completed the drive your life course. As many as 960 workers could be enrolled annually at the Lephalale further education and training college.

Eskom together with its contractors are funding the MLI programmes. Sector Education and Training Authorities (Setas) have committed to co-funding some courses.

“The Medupi initiative is a voluntary programme that started in the office of Eskom’s chief executive and has come to life because of the willingness and contributions of the contractors, the government, organised labour and local leaders,’’ Crookes says. “It could be the start of a new way of undertaking large construction projects in South Africa.’’

Medupi is a greenfields coal-fired power plant project located in Lephalale, Limpopo province. The station comprises six units, each generating 794 MW each, to add a total capacity of 4,764 MW at completion. Medupi forms part of 90-year-old Eskom’s largest-ever capacity expansion programme.

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