Opportunities beckon for Eskom-trained staff

BROADER POTENTIAL: Mike Brown, left, and Mbuso Gqadu say Eskom-trained possible 'retrenchees' could look into Africa for opportunity.
BROADER POTENTIAL: Mike Brown, left, and Mbuso Gqadu say Eskom-trained possible 'retrenchees' could look into Africa for opportunity.

With government forging ahead with plans to reshape Eskom into three parts, fears are that job losses may be one of the inevitable results.

The job numbers support this — in 2003, Eskom employed 33,600 people; today it’s 47 600.

However, what appears to be bad news for employees might actually be the start of new careers in the private sector, Mbuso Gqadu and Mike Brown, directors of East London energy company Eya Bantu (EB), said.

Brown and Gqadu once worked for Eskom, as did more than 20 senior managers out of the company’s 200-strong workforce.

Gqadu said: “With the uncertainty at Eskom there are many people who are nervous about their future.

“People I know from my time at the utility are doubting their own value and their skills level.

“With all negativity coming from director level there is a feeling among South Africans that ineptitude runs from state-capturing senior management and directors right down to the shop floor.

“People seem to forget that many of the staff who still work at Eskom are the same people who turned it into the world’s best power utility.”

Brown said senior staff, especially those with long service, had not suddenly become useless.

“There is a wealth of knowledge and experience just waiting to be tapped by the new diversified Eskom, but to my mind more so the private sector.”

Brown said in the 1990s and 2000s, Eskom’s training was probably the best of any power utility in the world.

“Highly qualified technical staff, when they were employed, would spend between six months to a year learning the Eskom way of doing things.

“Many of these champion workers are worried about the future, especially those with retirement around the corner.”

Brown said Eskom technically trained people had an international reputation for excellence and many could walk into jobs at any international electrical utility.

Brown said: “We already have future job agreements with many of them, especially those who are going to take early retirement.

“Our head office is in East London, with branches in Port Elizabeth, George, Cape Town, and, in early 2020, Bloemfontein.

“We have also opened in Zambia, with an office in Lusaka.”

Gqadu said most of their projects were funded by the World Bank.

“From experience at our company, the big demand for Eskom skills probably lies north of us.

“We are active in Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, DRC, Eritrea, Uganda and Botswana.

“We initially worked through Siemens, which is an international giant, but we are now getting calls directly from Sadc countries.

“Officials say Africa is the new growth area and we are certainly experiencing that.” 

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