TETA: New skills for a new era of transport

The South African transport sector is in the midst of a fundamental overhaul of its training and upskilling infrastructure, to capacitate the sector for radical socialand technological change.

This was the word from MaphefoAnno-Frempong, CEO of the Transport Education Training Authority (TETA), during a keynotepresentation at the 42nd South African Transport Conference.

Opening the conference, new South African transport minister Barbara Creecy had earlier noted that the sector was amid one of the greatest changes since the introduction of the automobile – thanks to evolutions in digital technology and renewable energy.

TETA is the institution tasked with ensuring that workers who enter this rapidly transforming sector, as well as those who have been in the industry for many years, have the skills to work and thrive.

TETA reports to the Department of Higher Education and Training, and is dedicated to developing the transport sector, ensuring that it has a skilled and capable workforce, and working to keep all role players financially sustainable.

Anno-Frempong says TETA works to achieve this through globally aligned skills development, rural development, industry transformation, strategy partnerships, research and innovation.

The South African transport industry was estimated to contributeR364,2 billionto the economy in 2022. Itemploys around 966 000 people, without taking the taxi industry into account.

Youth employment (34 and younger) increased from 33.9% to 34.4% year-on-year in Q1 2024, while the 55-and-older age group proportion declined from 10.8% to 8.4%. It remains amale-dominated sector, with only 18,1% of transport workers being women, according to Statistics SA.

At the same time, the industry is faced with critical skills shortages. There is therefore a critical need for reskilling and upskilling amidst a perfect storm of supply-chain challenges, 4IR, digitalisation, an ageing workforce, sustainability imperatives, legislative and regulatory changes, and the need for digital innovation.

To help the transport sector meet these challenges, TETA recently undertook research into the skills repurposing and reskilling needs facing thesector, and gained several key findings.

The research found that new technology was the main factor driving the need for change, and that outdated qualifications sometimes slowed progress. The impact of 4IR mainly affected the aerospace and marine sectors, but across the industry there was a need to upskill employees for new technologies.

The research also found that skills shortages in the sector were due to factors including old curriculums, outdated technology, a shortage of funding, or lack of awareness of how to secure SETA funding. There were also issues around a resistance to change.

Anno-Frempong identified the Top 10 emerging jobs in transport, for which TETA was working to design reskilling programmes:

  • Autonomous vehicle operator/technician
  • Electric vehicle technician
  • Urban mobility specialist
  • Transportation security specialist
  • E-commerce logistics coordinator
  • Drone delivery operator
  • Data analyst/transportation planner
  • Sustainable transport specialist
  • Smart traffic management engineer
  • Transportation IoT specialist

TETA has embarked on an ambitious redesign of its curriculums to equip current and future transport professionals for the needs of their evolving sector.

New training initiatives include courses in green transport, drone technology, 4IR, Internet of Things (IoT) and adjacent disciplines, in partnership with institutions like University of Johannesburg, Stellenbosch University, and Tshwane University.

TETA also recently launched a new Scholarship to the World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden.The project is aimed at unlocking the potential of the ocean economy by upskilling the industry at masters’ and PhD level. There are currently 80 scholarship beneficiaries, in the programme.

TETA works in partnership with the Qualifications Council For Trades and Occupations (QCTO) to ensure that occupational qualifications and skills programmes are adequately designed, accredited, implemented and certified.

The revamp of qualifications infrastructure for the new transport era has seen 31 of 37 non-trade qualifications being phased out. These are in the process of being replaced with new occupational qualifications.

The 39 former trade qualifications are in the process of being developed into occupational qualifications, and 1894 unit standards are being registered and registered as skills programmes.

“Occupational qualifications are critical,” said Anno-Frempong. “A skilled transport workforce drives economic growth, it attracts investment, and it supports our national development plans.

“In partnership with the industrial players in our sector, TETA is committed to rolling out the new system, so we can all enjoy the benefits.”