The George Municipality currently has 21 interns that, as part of their studies, need to work in a suitable environment or to gain proper exposure in their career fields.
The Infrastructure Skills Internship programme (ISDG) was introduced during the 2011/12 financial year by National Treasury, the custodian of this Internship programme. In the 2012/13 financial year eleven (11) qualified graduates were recruited in the following engineering fields to start their ISDG internship programme with the George Municipality. The graduates are three Civil Engineers, one Chemical Engineer, one Mechanical Engineer, five Electrical Engineers and one Artisan Plumber. Each intern receives a handsome monthly stipend from National Treasury. The ISDG Internship programme is over a period of 3 years (2012/13 to 2016).
Two retired professional engineers were appointed as mentors, one for the Civil Engineering graduates and one for the Electrical Engineering graduates. Their job is to mentor the interns towards their respective professional registration with the relevant statutory councils.
The purpose of this initiative is to focus on recruiting unemployed graduates who are in possession of a tertiary qualification namely, a national diploma and/or a degree from an accredited University of Technology and or a University. Also to enhance capacity and build a pool of resources for local government infrastructure delivery through training unemployed graduates and registering them with the respective building environment statutory councils.
The programme is meant to also expand and deepen professional technical skills pool within participating municipalities.
The ISDG Internship is implemented by municipalities on the basis of their capacities, (meaning management capability, available mentors and more). Municipalities are expected to recruit, place and register the graduates with the statutory councils.
In February 2012, the George Municipality was the first and only Municipality identified by National Treasury to participate in the ISDG Internship project. The City of Cape Town followed soon afterwards in 2014.
The financial value of the ISDG Internship programme is R12 million spread over a period of three years. This amount includes the monthly stipends for each intern, mentors’ salaries, training, tools & equipment and expenditure relevant to the Internship programme.
The Internship programme will be concluded December 2016 and it is hoped that all the interns will be professional Engineers with the ECSA (Engineering Council of SA). The idea is that they be offered employment within Municipalities.
Vianda van Aswegen, a Chemical Engineer at the Civil Engineering Directorate, said in her comments after being asked about the programme, “the ISDG internship programme has great potential and benefits for graduates and the Municipalities, if implemented effectively. Thus, the graduates provide a source of additional technical support to the existing operations of the Municipal processes and the Municipality provides the graduate with practical training and skills development opportunities to develop their respective competencies to deliver services effectively.
One of Vianda’s projects involves water treatment.
Adam-Johan Willems, an Electrical Engineer at the Electro-technical Directorate said he is very grateful for the opportunity he was given through the program. “Over the past three years I have gained valuable experience within the municipal environment and in my field of expertise. We started off slow and unsure of what was expected but I can now say with the help and guidance of our mentor, Mr Paul van Niekerk and the support and participation of my colleagues, I am progressing very well. I have also gained great confidence through the various in-house projects I was tasked with and currently working on.”
Two interns are currently working in the Town Planning department. They are obliged to do a minimum of nine months practical training as part of the diploma or degree studies. Both of the interns in the department are studying towards a National Diploma in Town and Regional planning.
The Finance Directorate houses five interns for a minimum of two years and a maximum of three. They rotate between the different sections. They are part of the National Treasury‘s Financial Management Grant programme.
Three interns are gaining practical experience in the Community Services Directorate. Two from the Signa Academy, Cape Town are working at George Traffic Services and the Community Development Section. A third student from Hugenote College is also gaining Social Work experience in the Community Development Section.