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€100 000 investment fosters engineering education

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Schneider Electric has invested €100 000 towards developing 600 electrical and electronic engineering students at University of Johannesburg (UJ) over three years in the field of energy.
An Access to Education Training Agreement signing ceremony was held at Schneider Electric’s Midrand Campus, Johannesburg yesterday to commemorate the collaboration. The event included high level delegation and signatories from the French Ministry of Education, Higher Education and Research (MENESR), Schneider Electric South Africa (SESA), Schneider Electric Foundation – Foundation De France, Schneider Electric France, Department of Higher Education and Training and UJ’s Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (FEBE).
The educational agreement forms part of Schneider Electric’s sustainable growth strategy which is bent on affording opportunities to underprivileged students through intensive vocational training, exposure to and the implementation of innovative technologies through internationally recognised competitive learning programmes.
Addressing the delegation, Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mduduzi Manana placed emphasis on the need for institutions of higher learning to collaborate with the private sector to ensure industry needs are met, to help bridge the skills gap through training, internship, apprenticeship and mentorship programmes. He highlighted the need for post-schooling sector to provide different pathways for skills, training and education development, greater articulation in qualifications with multiple entry and exit points allowing for greater mobility into vocational, general and technical educational pathways.
In support of the National Development Plan to produce more skilled engineers and engineering technologists, UJ continues to pursue industry collaborations that foster skills development and training. The collaboration further affirms UJ’s role as a leader in excellence in teaching and learning through its vast international and national industry collaborations.
UJ deputy vice-chancellor: research, internationalisation and the library, Prof Tshilidzi Marwala comments: “We are grateful for this opportunity as it fosters UJ’s global excellence and stature through private sector engagement. In addition, it addresses South Africa’s socio-economic challenges and provides for greater opportunity to enable disadvantaged youth to pursue careers in energy based engineering technologies.”
FEBE head of school: electrical engineering, Prof Johan Meyer adds: “This is a massive collaborative venture that provides historically disadvantaged students the opportunity to build competitive edge and knowledge to enhance the energy sector in South Africa.”
The collaboration agreement is evidence of Schneider Electric’s proactive investment in research and development in order to sustain innovation and differentiation, with a strong commitment to sustainable development. “We are grateful for Schneider Electric’s continued support, in 2015 SESA also supported the Gwakwani Limpopo Rural Electrification community engagement project in taking power to people with no access to electricity.”
FEBE executive dean, Prof Saurabh Sinha says: “Given the recent adoption of the United Nations sustainable development goals, this agreement enables our approach to sustainable energy training.” The agreement is focused on establishing a dedicated lab with Schneider Electric equipment to the value of €100 000 at the UJ’s Doornfontein Campus. In addition, it will support current international training methodologies, with equipment donated by SESA and intellectual expertise from MENESR.
“The signing of this agreement forms part of UJ’s efforts to broaden access to education, it also highlights the initiative by national and international industry stakeholders to support higher education in South Africa by enhancing the development of engineers, engineering technologists, and technicians whilst building capacity among historically disadvantaged youth.”