The Skills Subcommittee of the Greater Knysna Business Chamber has launched the Knysna Education Skills Hub (KESH) to bring together training and skills development organisations that share a mission to prepare Knysna’s young people for meaningful employment, while also developing their entrepreneurial skills.
The subcommittee was founded under interim chair, Jan Van der Westhuizen, Group CEO of the international management and leadership consultancy, Experttech.
“In our town, we have what I call five big constraints that are hampering growth: energy, waste, water, jobs, and skills,” said Mr Van der Westhuizen.
“The other three pale into unimportance without jobs and skills.”
He said that the KESH grew out of a meeting between Sector Educational Training Authorities, private training providers, the Garden Route District Municipality’s Skills Mecca, the Knysna Municipality, and business owners.
Mr Van der Westhuizen referenced one of the group companies – Co Co Waste to Energy – which is involved in a waste-to-energy project for Knysna: “And for that we need specific skills – skills that aren’t available in the town.” (To resolve this particular challenge, KESH has partnered with CSIR.)
“For me, the theme when it comes to skills is Growing your Own Timber: we need to grow skills and jobs that can work with the various industries already established here – boatbuilding, forestry, tourism, food production etc.”
SOUTH CAPE COLLEGE
“From the start, the South Cape College was keen to establish itself in Knysna because they see it as an important hub for its own activities. An estimated 60% of students enrolled in the South Cape College’s Bitou campus come from Knysna.”
Mr Van der Westhuizen said that the concept has had enthusiastic support from the Knysna Municipality’s Local Economic Department, Properties, and Planning- Departments, and that the Municipality has identified three venues which it can make available to KESH and South Cape College.
“We hope to have a peg in the ground by January, and the College should welcome its first intake in Knysna by mid-2024.”
One of the advantages of having the South Cape College in Knysna is access to provincial funding pathways.
“South Cape College is seen as the anchor tenant for skills in Knysna. With this prestigious institution in our midst, KESH can have access to funding from the Western Cape Government, National Government (including the Department of Labour) and the SETAs, and already has support from the Garden Route Skills Mecca,” said Mr Van der Westhuizen.
The Business Chamber’s mission is to align its strategy with the Western Cape Government’s ‘G4J’ – Growth for Jobs – strategy, which seeks to create a million jobs and develop a 1.3 trillion rand economy by 2035.
“The Skills Hub has the potential to turn Knysna into a “mini-Stellenbosch with a primary focus on education and training,” said Mr Van der Westhuizen.
He said this was evident from the cross-section of service providers who put their hands up to serve on the Chamber’s Skills Subcommittee – which included Masithandane, an education training NPO from Sedgefield; Seabridge High School and vocational training centre in Sedgefield; the Garden Route Skills School, an accredited training provider focussing on learnerships in clothing manufacturing in Knysna; Hope HQ/Hands and Heart skills development centre; Knysna’s Local Economic Development Department; and the Garden Route Skills Mecca. The Knysna office of the national Department of Labour has also expressed interest to join the subcommittee, although its representative was unable to attend the inaugural meeting. Other interested parties include Experttech’s Further Education Skills College; Services SETA; MERSETA; W&R SETA; NCPC of CSIR and the Knysna office of the National Department of Labour, which plays a crucial role in the assessment and placement of skills and labour in Knysna.
The Subcommittee voted Ms Kogie Moodley to act as chairperson; she will be supported by Beverly Pothier (deputy chair), Adelaide Lor, Bev Nel, and Vicky Arendse.
As head of KESH, Mrs Moodley will work closely with the Garden Route Skills Mecca and Knysna’s Local Economic Development department.
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