By Donné Nieman, Sales Director Western Cape at Workforce Staffing
As of 2022, there is a total of 6.2 GW of installed renewable energy capacity in South Africa. The South African government has set a target of 17,800 MW of installed renewable energy capacity by 2030, which is expected to be met through a combination of public and private sector investment. The renewable energy sector will need to expand rapidly to meet these targets and deliver the expected benefits of reduced reliance on imported fossil fuels, increased job creation, economic growth, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Temporary Employment Service (TES) providers can play a significant role in helping the renewable energy sector to meet these targets. Using the specialised resources of TES providers, companies can benefit from flexible and sustainable staffing solutions that help achieve our national sustainability goals while meeting local content workforce requirements.
Rapid, sustainable expansion is required
Given the current strain on our national power grid and the worsening load-shedding conditions, the need for scalability in the renewable energy sector is urgent. However, the specialised skills required in this industry are scarce, and the demand is high. Businesses in the renewable energy sector are under pressure to deliver results and TES providers can play a significant role in helping to fulfil their labour requirements in a cost-effective, sustainable manner that meets not only the needs of individual companies, but the needs of the sector. By providing access to a skilled workforce in a manner that reduces the environmental impact of hiring, along with training and development opportunities, and flexible working arrangements, TES providers can supply and manage the skills and labour demanded by the renewable energy sector boom.
Reinventing supply to meet demand
The specialist skills and resources required in the renewable energy sector in South Africa are not suitable for permanent employment, particularly due to the temporary nature of project-based work. At this early stage of the boom, the supply of skills and labour has not yet developed in the numbers required to meet the demand. As such, existing skills and resources must be effectively shared across the industry on a flexible model. TES providers can help businesses to access skills that would be unaffordable on permanent employment contracts, and such workers have access to the benefits associated with permanent employment despite the temporary nature of their work. Such flexible working arrangements help to attract and retain a more diverse workforce, which can be geographically distributed and shared in a way not possible with permanent employment. Furthermore, such a shared, flexible labour model reduces the environmental impact associated with traditional hiring. Temporary workers can be deployed to different locations on demand by the TES provider, which eliminates the need for businesses to build and maintain their own offices and facilities near the project site. This in turn can prevent significant negative environmental impact.
Skill the necessary workforce
While existing skills and labour are distributed across renewable energy projects throughout the industry, it is necessary to expand the resource pool through training and development opportunities. TES providers can facilitate skills transfer programmes, and reskilling and upskilling of local workers, which can be particularly valuable in engaging communities where a project is set up. In this way, TES providers play an active role in improving the skills and knowledge of the workforce, which results in increased productivity and efficiency, while strengthening the numbers in the collective resource pool. Such benefits are not limited to the workforce but extend also to communities surrounding the geographical location of renewable energy projects. TES providers have extensive experience working with communities, which proves to be highly valuable, as most renewable energy projects are in smaller towns.
Reaching the community
TES providers can be instrumental in contributing to the upliftment of the community through skill enhancement to enable sustainable employment. As most renewable energy projects require a significant percentage of local labour, community participation and effective community engagement are critical to project success. To assist with Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) compliance requirements, TES providers assign client liaison officers or community liaison officers to establish and maintain strong ties with the local community. With even more renewable projects expected in the future, partnering with a TES provider ensures businesses tap into expertise in compliant labour practices, which ensures successful project builds and leaves a positive impact on communities even after the project is completed.
From a compliance perspective, a TES provider can assume the risk and responsibility for HR and IR regulations, ensuring that all employees involved in the projects, whether temporary or permanent, are compliant with the minimum regulations in a manner that prioritises fair labour practices. A TES provider is also able to guide clients with respect to their own HR and IR issues, ensuring consistency in how both their employees and our temporary workforce are treated.
Working toward sustainability
With ambitious goals set by the government for renewable energy capacity, TES providers offer flexible and sustainable staffing solutions that will be essential to meet these goals. The scarcity of specialised skills and the temporary nature of project-based work make TES providers a valuable resource that can support the sector’s rapid expansion while reducing environmental impact. By contributing to community engagement, skill enhancement, and assisting businesses in their compliance with HR and IR regulations, TES providers can also ensure a positive impact on both the workforce and surrounding communities. By leveraging the expertise of TES providers, businesses in the renewable energy sector can effectively address the labour requirements necessary for rapid sector expansion while working towards national sustainability objectives.