Fellowships are key to closing the gap on SA skills shortages
The latest unemployment figures in South Africa are cause for concern. Among those, the growing number of graduates who are unable to find jobs in their chosen fields or, in many cases, are employed but not in the field they studied, is telling of an even greater challenge South Africa faces.
The 2019 Post-School Education and Training Monitoring sheds some light on this issue, reporting that, between 2010 and 2016, the highest rate of graduations hailed from humanities fields. The number of graduates in science, engineering and technology, and business management – some of the main fields suffering from a scarcity of skills in South Africa – trailed behind.
“Many students continue to pursue qualifications that don’t offer great employment prospects, and that has a lot to do with a lack of access to information and opportunity, as well as the need to encourage interest in other fields,” says Janavi Da Silva, Director of Programmes at GreenMatter.
“South Africa’s biodiversity is one of the main sectors suffering from a severe skills shortage, yet there is a huge need to protect our country’s natural heritage. Nurturing the best minds to safeguard the future of the green economy is an important investment, which is why fellowships are so vital in our field.”
Academic fellowships incentivise graduates to pursue further study and contribute value to a particular field. This is often achieved through funding for post-graduate studies, offering mentorship from experienced professionals and access to training and development programmes designed to help students build sustainable careers.
“For me, being part of a fellowship programme really changed my life, both on a personal and professional level,” says Jade Moody, who completed the GreenMatter Fellowship programme earlier this year.
“I started out studying hydrology but now, as a result of the support and guidance I received through the Fellowship, I’m interning at an environmental company and taking a broader environmental approach to my masters. In fact, it was actually through GreenMatter that I got this internship opportunity in the first place.”
Moody’s Fellowship is unique, as participants are supported by dedicated co-ordinators and mentors long after the programme comes to an end. Moody was not only able to choose the mentor she was comfortable with and who best aligned with her developmental needs but was also given the opportunity to take part in a range of mandatory skills development programmes.
These programmes are intended to equip Fellows with important soft skills to help them understand and succeed in the workplace in the biodiversity, environmental and water sectors, while building sustainable careers for themselves. These included project management, emotional intelligence business etiquette and even lessons on how to manage personal finances.
Fellowships like these upskill and empower the individual, in addition to offering academic guidance and funding, which is not only seen as an investment in South African youth, but in the green economy too. In this way, South African sectors that are suffering from critical skills shortages gain talented, well-equipped, passionate professionals who are properly prepared to become leaders in their respective fields – and in time, fill a growing skills gap in the green economy.View more
The WWF Nedbank Green Trust celebrates 30 years
The WWF Nedbank Green Trust celebrates 30 years of sparking change for people and the planet
The global Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the world and touched every life in many different and often very painful ways. However, the pandemic has also given us a new opportunity to reimagine a world where we focus on the needs of people and the planet and recreate systems of life, economics, education, health and employment that focus on the well-being of all people and not simply the self-centred and consumerist desires of the few.
“Never before has the slogan of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust – igniting new ways for people and nature to thrive – been more relevant than it is today,” said Augustine Morkel, manager of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust. New global research, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by the World Wide Fund for Nature, shows that public interest in, and concern for nature, has risen markedly (16%) in the past five years and continues to grow during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“People all over the world, particularly in emerging markets, are increasingly aware of the planetary crisis, and this is affecting their behaviour. In a clear validation of a growing trend, concerned individuals, non-profit organisations, businesses, governments, and society are acting on their concerns over nature loss in an assortment of ways. And we at the WWF Nedbank Green Trust are proud to have been catalysing change for the harmonious co-existence of people and planet for the last 30 years,” said Morkel.
The WWF Nedbank Green Trust, founded in 1990 by Nedbank and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF South Africa) funds innovative projects that have the potential to contribute to solving some of South Africa’s greatest societal and environmental challenges. From the beginning, the WWF Nedbank Green Trust achieved its greatest influence through partnerships.
“We work with partners and communities who champion the custodianship of our natural resources and direct their energy and efforts to key levers of change for South Africa’s future. Our prosperity depends on the coming together of governments, businesses, organisations and all people, and so, for the past 30 years, the Green Trust has worked to create and cement these interconnected relationships,” said Morkel.
This 30-year partnership has raised more than R350 million for the funding of approximately 300 major conservation projects. You can help the WWF Nedbank Green Trust by supporting the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme, which is aimed at supporting nature conservation projects through community-based programmes and is key in looking after natural resources such as our oceans, wildlife, freshwater, climate and more.
“Nedbank is proud to use its financial expertise to do good for individuals, families, businesses and society. We pride ourselves as the ‘green and caring’ bank, committed in our sustainability efforts to make a lasting difference in society. Through our partnership with the WWF-SA, we have seen the benefits of working with ordinary South Africans who share the same vision. The past 30 years have proven that by opening the doors of conservation and making it inclusive, we can all contribute to a better environment through job creation, food security and economic growth,” said Tobie Badenhorst, Head: Group Sponsorships and Cause Marketing at Nedbank.
Through the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme, South Africans are encouraged to contribute to nature conservation at no cost to them. “Nedbank has created a programme that makes it easy for anyone to contribute and what is great about it is that your contribution comes at no cost. As a bank that cares about nature conservation, it is our duty to lead the way and encourage everyone from individuals to corporates, urban and rural communities to support the environment. As we celebrate 30 years of the WWF Nedbank Green Trust, we hope to inspire all South Africans to join the Nedbank Green Affinity Programme and make the world a better place,” Badenhorst said.View more
Celebrating a true green-fingered Kirstenbosch legend
For over 45 years, Andrew Jacobs has become well known for his warm, bubbly personality, affable smile and ability to make his enchanting tales about one of the world’s most famous garden appeal to, and inspire, any visitor, botanical boffin or otherwise.Continue reading View more
GBCSA urges building owners to know and show their energy performance
By next December, some non-residential buildings will be required by law to display an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which demonstrates the efficiency or inefficiency of a building. This is done by measuring the building’s energy-use intensity and giving it a colour-coded score from A-G, like the energy rating you would find on appliances.
In the same way that drivers check the fuel consumption of a car before renting or buying it, knowing the energy performance of a building empowers potential buyers or tenants to make a more informed decision.
It is hoped that this will be a great boost for energy efficiency in South Africa, since the first step toward lowering energy consumption is knowing energy consumption. The new regulation requires that energy data is collected over the period of a year, to get an adequate measure of the building’s energy use. Thus, building owners will see how their buildings compare against the SANS 10400-XA benchmark energy usage intensity value.
Once information on a building’s energy performance is publicly displayed, it will be much harder to justify operating an inefficient building. Buyers and tenants do not desire to move into a building that will be more expensive to run and will be a drain on the planet’s resources.
EPCs in South Africa
To obtain an EPC, a building owner will need to gather some of the building information – the electricity consumption data for a year, the net floor area, information on the areas excluded, vacancy rates – and contract a South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) accredited inspection body (IB) to audit the information. The IB submits the energy performance value to the South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI), which inputs it into the National Building Energy Performance Register. A unique number for the EPC is generated and sent to the SANAS accredited IB, who then issues the EPC to the client for display.
The National Building Energy Performance Register will assist with future benchmarking of building energy consumption and track progress toward achievement of the targets set out in future EPC regulations.
Before joining the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA), CEO Lisa Reynolds played an important role in the development of SANS 1544, the South African National Standard, which governs EPCs. “The old adage “if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it” is the basis for the EPC Regulations. The energy usage of the South African existing building stock is unknown. How do we improve on an unknown? By measuring it – and ultimately improving on it,” says Reynolds.
The Stellenbosch University Admin B building is the first in South Africa to achieve an EPC. The building received an A-rating for electrical consumption of 48kWh per square metre per year. The University has been collecting data for several years and the data verification was completed by Bluedust Engineering Solutions. This information was handed to Mess Energy Management and Validation Service, which is accredited by SANEDI to issue EPCs.
The challenge is now on to see which building in South Africa will be the next to get its Energy Performance Certificate.
The GBCSA is providing training workshops on EPCs in two parts/sessions. The first one is for building owners, facilities managers and consultants interested in understanding more about the EPC process and the second session must also be attended for those wishing to become SANAS accredited inspection bodies. Click here for more information.
Towards Net Zero
Understanding the energy performance of a building is a vital first step on the journey to a net-zero carbon building, which is the ultimate goal for the GBCSA. From knowing the energy usage intensity of a building; leading to the energy efficiency retrofitting of that building and ultimately the retrofitting into a net-zero carbon building.
The GBCSA strongly advocates for net-zero carbon buildings. These are very highly energy-efficient buildings, with the remainder of the power required for the operation of the building provided by renewable energy sources.
The motivation for net-zero carbon buildings is driven by South Africa’s National (National Development Plan goals) and local climate change commitments, which include the C40 Global Net Zero Carbon Buildings Declaration. Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town and eThekwini are C40 cities and signatories to the 2018 declaration, alongside 24 other global cities. These cities have committed to developing regulations and/or planning policy to ensure new buildings operate at net zero carbon by 2030 and all buildings reach net-zero carbon status by 2050.View more