Solar Training + Internships for 100 SA youths

Solar training alone is not enough. Installers need help opening doors in the industry. GREEN Solar Academy has partnered with KP Cares to realise professional solar training paired with on-the-job experience for technically inclined youngsters across South Africa.

When KP Cares set out to find a training provider to train youth in the fundamentals of PV solar, and connect them to the solar industry at large, GREEN Solar Academy was their first choice backed by the awareness of GREEN’s commendable track record in providing solar training on the African continent.

The overall objective of the training Programme is to skill up participants and expose them to first job experience so that they are in a position to find sustainable employment in the PV industry, preferably in their own region.

Students work in pairs to do the class exercises during Solar 101

KP Cares is a non-profit and for-public-benefit organisation with a vision to break the cycle of poverty and inequality in South Africa. They do this by focusing on the sustainable development goals of alleviating poverty (SDG 1), good health and well-being (SDG 3), quality education and development (SDG 4) and affordable and clean energy (SDG 7).

They are piloting the training in three provinces in the first year which commenced in July 2022, with Bothaville, Free State as their first site. It is from this region that 28 young people were selected for a solar training programme paired with an internship programme facilitated by GREEN.

Their ages ranged from 20 to 32, some of them recently matriculated, while others already had work experience, some having completed their tertiary education in fields ranging from veterinary science to electrical, mechanical and civil engineering. Nine women (28%) are among the 28 learners.

Kgabiso Sephai-Motaung, MD of KP Cares, says, “At KP Cares we believe in a just energy transition and for it to be just, sustainable socio-economic benefits need to accrue to communities starting with addressing the skills gap. It is based on this vision that we embarked on this Programme to bridge the skills gap and galvanize localized industry interest in the green economy targeting grass-roots communities.”

Participants learn to align and affix short rail roof mounting structure

GREEN suggested a blended learning approach that included online learning, classroom teaching and on-site practical instruction to ensure that there was a method of instruction to match every need.

In late October, the trainees started their introduction to solar energy with GREEN’s eLearning course called Principles of PV Systems. This was followed by the 3-day Solar 101 classroom training, conducted in Bothaville.

The youngsters are taught how to handle and secure PV modules correctly

The students then travelled to Wynberg, Johannesburg – some of them travelling outside their hometown for the very first time – to attend a 2-day practical PV mounter course where they worked in teams to affix mounting structures, mount modules and connect cabling on the three training roofs at the GREEN Solar Academy. Equipment used in the training includes cutting-edge components supplied by several of GREEN’s Technology Partners: K2 Systems, Renusol and IBC Solar mounting structure systems as well as Jinko, RenewSys and Krannich Solar’s Axitec PV modules.

“It was a truly exciting experience to be engaging and sharing information with millennials, guiding them through the process of theory learning and a practical application thereof,” says McDonald Sekoa, one of the GREEN Solar Academy trainers who worked with the students.

GREEN Solar Academy Project Manager Amanda Dzivhani hands the students’ certificates to KP Cares MD Kgabiso Sephai-Motaung

The next stage of the training involves work visits to actual sites where commercial-scale solar PV systems are being installed on behalf of KP Cares. Under the supervision of GREEN trainers, the candidates will have the opportunity to observe installation done by the contractor. GREEN will also facilitate visits to live solar plants so that the students are introduced to typical operation and maintenance tasks.

Through GREEN, KP Cares aims to upskill and give work experience to 100 solar installers during the course of the project. If you want to get involved or collaborate, either by co-funding, giving the students access to your site for observation purposes or to host an intern, please contact Amanda Dzivhani from GREEN Solar Academy or Kedibone Pompi from KP Cares.