Northlink College, a large progressive FET College in the Northern Suburbs of the Western Cape, decided at the beginning of 2011 to explore the possibility of offering Renewable Energy training programmes as part of its curriculum. During 2012 we have signed an agreement with a German company, Soitec, to training forty learners in the remote town of Touwriver to install and maintain Solar panels for them as part of a Concentrator Photovoltaic Power Plant project. During February 2013 we have also signed a MOA with the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works in respect of the Northlink College Green Skills training Project where they trained our learners and staff on Green Skills in the built environment trades. This project aims to make learners aware of the importance of green building elements at entry level for construction workers. Northlink College also have sent two lecturers to Germany on a “Green College” training course for two weeks as well as a lecturer on a Train the Trainer course in Renewable Energy.
In October 2012 the British Council decided to pilot Partnership for Skills Development project under the Skills for Employability programme. Northlink College was selected to collaborate with College Gwent, Llandrillo and Pembrokeshire, developing its curriculum to include Renewable Energy training programmes by means of a unique partnership project with these colleges in Wales.
After a meeting in Northlink College in Cape Town, South Africa in March this year to grow curriculum links, College Gwent and Northlink College decided to work together to introduce renewable energy teaching into the South African curriculum for the first time.
College Gwent developed the idea into a collaborative project with fellow Welsh College Llandrillo, and the initiative secured further funding from the British Council in July 2013.
Head of School for Business at Coleg Gwent’s City of Newport Campus, Julian Newberry was involved in the initial discussions with staff at Northlink College and helped to secure further British Council funding for the project. He said: “In today’s world, renewable energy training is vital for the continued employability of students, as well as being essential for the environment.
“We hope to improve the quality of student experience and help businesses to thrive by training their future employees in the skills and knowledge they’ll need in the rapidly developing renewable energy sector.
“We’re delighted to be working with our partners College Llandrillo and Northlink College in South Africa to develop and share best practice and to ultimately help make the world a cleaner, greener place.”
Senior Manager: Education and Training, Pierre de Waal and Occupational Manager, Dion Miller from Northlink College visited renewable energy centres at College Gwent’s City of Newport Campus and College Llandrillo in September in the first stage of the project to see renewable energy teaching in practice at the Welsh colleges. They said: “The first thing that struck us is the similarities between the students, facilities and the way the Education and Training process are managed at the two colleges.”
“College Gwent, clearly, has a lot of expertise to offer Northlink College in our quest for implementing Renewable Energy in our curriculum.”
“The support offered, time allocated, lectures and other staff commitment to our visit, willingness to show/share and explain the renewable energy and greening of the college process was unbelievable and we appreciated the shared commitment to impart best practises.
“We look forward to a sustainable partnership between us and the colleges in Wales and will definitely share our knowledge gained in Wales with our sister FET Colleges in the Western Cape and Colleges affiliated to the British Council Skills for Employability programme.
Through innovative partnerships such as Coleg Gwent’s renewable energy centre the Baxi academy, Sector Education and Teaching Authorities, Higher Education Partnerships, Industry and other FET Colleges, Northlink College aims to give students studying for engineering qualifications the chance to experience the latest renewable technology so that they are well prepared for work with current knowledge of the sector. The first course in Solar Heating will commence in April 2014 at the Belhar Campus of Northlink College.