Minister Grant awards 127 new Masakh'iSizwe bursaries
Statement by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
It is an honour to be here today to present Masakh’iSizwe Bursaries to our outstanding recipients. These Bursary Collaboration Venture (BCV) awards are made possible by the Department of Transport and Public Works, together with our participating partner companies.
Our commitment to capacity building and job creation for the youth is one of our key drivers as the Western Cape Government, and particularly as the Department of Transport and Public Works. Our aim is to ensure that new skills are available to feed entry level posts in the transport, engineering and built environment; skills that have become scarce not only in the Western Cape, but in South Africa as a whole.
The Masakh’iSizwe Bursary Programme is a flagship programme that focuses on attracting and facilitating the development and availability of skills identified as scarce and critical. Once these skills have been developed, we hope that recipients of the bursaries will assist us in meeting the operational needs of the department, as well as those of the private companies who participate in the Masakh’iSizwe Bursary Collaboration Venture.
The name “Masakh’iSizwe” comes from the Nguni languages and means “Let’s Build the Nation”. The overarching aim is ultimately to develop the nation through education and training.
Before I address our new bursars, I wish to take the opportunity to share some new developments within the Department of Transport and Public Works that link directly to some of the study disciplines represented by students who are present today.
On 26 February 2019, our Department launched our Provincial Freight Strategy, which will be the framework that guides the Department in fulfilling its obligation as outlined in the National Land Transport Act. Greater freight efficiency is likely to lead to lower costs of goods and increased availability which have a direct benefit to the consumer.
Transport Economics is the study of the movement of people and goods over space and time. Its aim is to effectively and efficiently allocate available resources to meet the demand for transport services. In this vein, the Department of Transport and Public Works has, over the past few years, developed an Integrated Transport Intelligence Hub which integrates a wide range of information to monitor patterns and trends, including freight traffic management and road safety issues.
As a country currently in a radical developmental phase known as the 4th Industrial Revolution, we are required constantly to evolve our thinking and to reposition ourselves regularly in order to respond effectively to changes in the transport, engineering and built environment.
In a nutshell the importance of:
- Distance sensitising, which includes the utilisation of drones,
- Integrated IT processes that are shifting to the utilisation and integration of “big data”,
- Coding and rapid changes in how the green economy is integrated into most technical fields,
- are all forcing us to think farther ahead in how we plan new developments and what skills we will require for the future.
With that said, you may be wondering how these industry developments relate to the Masakh’iSizwe Bursary Programme?
Well, the Department of Transport and Public Works, through our Masakh’iSizwe Bursary Programme, offers bursaries to those studying towards qualifications in the field of transport economics which, as a skill set, is important to the work we do in the land transportation space and other fields in the built environment.
We are also specifically expanding our portfolios for transportation, facility management as part of property management and construction health and safety.
These developments require the nurturing of new skills sets and new job functions that are currently being developed for implementation in the future.
These industry developments have prompted the bursary programme proactively to increase postgraduate study opportunities and to diversify study disciplines through research and interaction with Higher Education Institutions. This work has been taking place internally since 2015. Bursars have therefore been encouraged to proceed with postgraduate studies, in some cases up to PhD level.
As an example of our commitment to skills development through the programme, even at postgraduate level, we recently appointed a graduate from the Masakh’iSizwe Bursary Programme as our first Assistant Transport Economist with a PhD in Transport Studies. This graduate has been appointed in a Transport component that requires his specific skills set. We look forward to expanding opportunities not only for undergraduates, but also postgraduates in future.
Amongst our bursars present here today are also current graduates from the programme who have been awarded postgraduate study bursaries specialising in Geo-Informatics. New bursaries have also been made available for studies in Electrical Engineering (IT systems), Geomatics, and other disciplines that will bring much-needed skills into our various transport and built environment projects, should the graduates eventually be employed by the department.
The study of Geomatics will in future lead to postgraduate qualifications in distance sensitising, and will assist the Department to integrate the utilisation of drones into many of its portfolios. We also hope to expand the existing skills pool for IT systems and data analysis as we modernise the way in which we do business.
Over the past 5 years, the Masakh’iSizwe Bursary Programme has awarded 350 new bursaries to deserving applicants. It is fitting that I also recognise and applaud BCV bursars present here today, who are co-sponsored by private companies and the department through the Masakh’iSizwe bursary programme. A total of 127 new bursaries were awarded for the 2019 academic year of which 23 are sponsored by the BCV Partners.
I should also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the work being done by the three Higher Education Institutions that form part of our Bursary Collaboration Venture partnership processes, namely the University of Cape Town, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and Stellenbosch University. We all individually and collectively contribute to the skills development and capacity enhancement of our bursars, be it on an academic level, or by providing support programmes and work experience required to obtain their qualifications, or employing graduates in the industry after graduating with their diplomas or degrees. The continued success of our programme is the result of the shared commitment of our valued partners.
A key objective of the bursary programme is to empower financially disadvantaged youth through access to tertiary education, support services, tutoring, employment placement, and partnership with the private sector. This sets the programme apart from many other similar programmes.
The co-ordination and success of the Masakh’iSizwe Bursary Programme is underpinned by direct interaction with bursars, graduates and all other stakeholders.
I should like to take this opportunity to highlight the success achieved by the Masakh’iSizwe Bursary Programme in matching graduates with employment opportunities during this past financial year, 2018/19. In the last 12 months, a total of seventeen (17) graduates were employed by the Department of Transport and Public Works. So far this year, as of 1 April 2019, another twenty graduates have joined our department in various professional fields. It is worth noting that of these 20 recently appointed graduates, 12 are young women. Two bursars were employed by municipalities and six in the private sector.
The graduates employed by the department are also registered as candidates in various disciplines and are undergoing training to attain professional registration through the professional development programme.
I should like to thank our Bursary Collaboration Venture (BCV) partners, private companies, and mentors for the important role they play in employing and providing meaningful job opportunities to interns and graduates. They have provided appropriate exposure, work experience and training to achieve the outcomes stipulated by professional bodies and relevant higher education institution.
For the past ten years, we have had a 100% pass rate amongst bursars, and an average of 85% success rate in facilitating the employment placement and rotation of interns and graduates.
At the heart of everything this programme does or seeks to achieve, are the young ladies and gentlemen, our bursars, who are present today. We are proud to award you a bursary sponsored through the Masakh’iSizwe Bursary programme and our partner companies. We hope that this opportunity will bring you closer achieving all that you aspire to achieve in your lives.
And to the parents or guardians, thank you for your commitment to the future of your sons or daughters, and the role that they will play in growing our economy. The on-going support that you provide during their studies will be key to their success.
I wish the bursars of 2019 a fruitful year and urge them to take every opportunity offered by the bursary programme and the higher education institutions to better their education and work readiness.
I also wish to acknowledge the efforts of the Directorate: Professional Development under the leadership of our Head of Department, Ms. Jacqui Gooch. A special thanks to the members of the Masakh’iSizwe team, as well as the BCV representatives for their dedication towards developing the next generation of professionals in the transport, engineering and built environment.
I thank you.