April 2022.

Levandre Loots, based in the rural Eastern Cape community of Cookhouse, is one of the eight young graduates who have benefitted from a Wind Turbine Service Training programme, as part of a youth development technical training initiative. During the seven-month long course, the youth were trained under the stewardship of the South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC), through the Cookhouse Wind Farm funded programme, aimed at upskilling youth.

Lavandre expressed his gratitude for the opportunity, which has now landed him a permanent job as a Facility Technician. “Before this course, I had no knowledge of wind turbines, but I fell in love with the subject and enjoyed learning about how they operate and produce energy without harming the environment. Being part of this programme gave me the chance to prove to myself that nothing is impossible. My dream is to leave a legacy and to be remembered as someone who made a difference and I believe that with a career in this field, I can accomplish that dream,” he said.

The programme was a joint initiative between Cookhouse Wind Farm and Suzlon, its Operations and Maintenance Contractor. Responding to high levels of unemployment in the province, this programme focuses on addressing skills development and job access while feeding a growing wind power industry.

“The initiative came at the right time for the industry as research shows that the country is in need of 1700 technicians in the Wind Farms space. This is a long-term initiative for us, since Youth Development is one of our five focus areas as outlined in the baseline study conducted in 2015,” explained Lifa Baskiti, Community Liaison Officer for Cookhouse Wind Farm.

In addition to the training, participants also received a stipend to cover their living expenses and were awarded certificates of completion during a graduation ceremony, held on 17 February 2022.

“Our goal is not to offer training to youth only for them to bask in the sun, but to help the industry grow, and we are delighted that leading industry players will offer these students jobs,” added Baskiti.

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