Hydrogen skills to get high priority, says DDG

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Staff Reporter

THE Department of Higher Education and Training, under Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande, said it is aware of green hydrogen’s vast opportunities.

The deputy director general in charge of skills for the DHET, Zukile Mvalo, participated in a roundtable on Monday in Sandton titled “Green Hydrogen: Opportunities and Challenges En Route to a Sustainable Future.”

Hosted by Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking (NCIB) and the Chemical Industries Education & Training Authority (CHIETA) on Monday, Mvalo said the government was making great strides to harness the sector in terms of skills and training for the opportunities in South Africa’s dynamic green hydrogen landscape.

He said because green hydrogen has profound economic and social implications, including job creation, skills development, and the fostering of new industries, Minister Nzimande launched several Labour Market Intelligence reports last month on the Skills Needs for the Economy and the Identification of Skills Needed for the Hydrogen Economy. One focused on the hydrogen sector, underscoring its critical importance to the economy and job creation.

South Africa is exploring the potential for green hydrogen as an energy source to meet the country’s net-zero ambitions and stimulate economic growth.

The research has predicted that South Africa will deploy at least 15 gigawatts of electrolysis to produce 500 kilotonnes of green hydrogen annually for use in the transportation, built environment, industrial, and power sectors, creating approximately 30,000 jobs by 2040.

“It indicates that we have our work cut out for ourselves, particularly CHIETA, as the report maps out the skills supply and demand in the hydrogen economy,” Mvalo said.

This means that the current hydrogen skills market needs to be expanded, especially in the chemical industry, where engineers and industry skills are urgently needed.

“Skills development is integral to the hydrogen economy. When employed in a job that does not match their skills profile, they are mismatched to their job. This cannot be overcome by increasing the number of graduates.

“On-the-job training and retraining are also needed. There must be a review of curriculum changes to include specific requirements for the green hydrogen economy,” he said.

Current qualifications, programmes and curricula offered in SA do not boast any hydrogen-related qualifications or programmes offered at the undergraduate level.

A few local higher education institutes have introduced hydrogen-related topics in their institutions, with research focusing on fuel cell innovation, green hydrogen production, and storage and distribution qualifications. However, overall, hydrogen qualifications are missing in SA institutions.

The increase in the production of green hydrogen will lead to an increased demand for artisans and technicians. As part of the training, the DHET has considered National Certificate (Vocational) (NC[V]), NATED and Occupational Qualifications.

Here, we have identified (mainly engineering) which can help foundational knowledge and skills necessary to support the hydrogen economy in SA.

“Globally and locally, there is a shortage of human resources with the requisite knowledge, skills, and industry experience to impart to students at schools, CETs, TVETs, and universities,” he said.

INSIDE EDUCATION

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