Minister Stella Sigcau,
Mr Ruel Khoza,
Chairperson of Eskom Board Professor Louise Tager,
Professor Kumar Bhattacharyya of the University of Warwick,
Dr Roy Marcus and Mr Richard Pike of Morgan Education,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you for inviting us to this special occasion. An occasion which not only gives birth to a very significant initiative, but also provides evidence of high level commitment by the Minister of Public Enterprises and her Department to human resource development.
When Minister Sigcau delivered her budget speech to parliament earlier this year, she made a commitment to focus her energies on the development of the human resource potential within all the public enterprises. It is the firm view of this government that state-owned corporations can and must play an important role in the development of much needed high levels skills among our people.
Today we are gathered here to witness and launch an initiative which the Minister promised. This initiative derives from our firm belief that training and skills development is one of the key ingredients necessary to enable those denied opportunities by apartheid to contribute to their own liberation and, indeed the transformation South Africa.
Placing public enterprises at the centre of this initiative, can only re-affirm government’s determination to empowering our people, Programme 2000 will involve all the parastatals falling under the public enterprise ministry and will focus on the development of a core of managers who will make a meaningful impact in their work environment.
The response from some of the companies has been overwhelming with ESKOM announcing that they will send another 30 candidates on the programme, Spoornet has identified 35 candidates who have graduated from their own in-house training and development programme, SABEP, Alexkor has risen to the challenge and has identified 5 candidates. We understand that a number of other companies are seriously considering identifying people with potential to join the programme.
I am even more delighted to note that some of the top executives managing state enterprises will be joining the unique Warwick University Doctorate Programme. The drive and commitment from all concerned is certainly encouraging and the fact that top managers are taking on the challenge to better equip themselves must be a signal for all managers who have the aspiration of taking their organisations and this country into the new millennium to enrol with the programme.
When I was first appraised of this initiative I was immediately struck by the fact that we had not attempted to reinvent the wheel, but that the Minister and her team had taken a look at the models used by developing countries in meeting the challenge of developing people who can make a contribution to their work environment in a short space of time. The accent is on time and relevancy and not on sending people on programmes just for the sake of satisfying communities that something is being done on the training front.
We are confident that with a partner like Professor Bhattacharyya, the developer of the unique integrated Manager Development Programmes at the University of Warwick, this programme will contribute significantly to our human resource capabilities. We are pleased that Professor Bhattacharyya is very confident about this programme and has accordingly guaranteed that candidates from his programmes will add value and change the fortunes of their organisations.
What we have uncovered as we examined the Manager Development Programme, is a model which has made a singular contribution to the development of companies and countries in major centres around the world. It has been used as one of the major drivers of the Malaysian, Hong Kong, Thailand, Indian and more recently Chinese economic miracles.
Even in South Africa we are hearing stories of significant developments in several companies, where candidates on the Warwick programmes are not only growing more and more confident in their ability to manage in their own environments, but that there is emerging evidence of companies measuring improved returns on investment as these candidates put their newly acquired skills to work in the development new products, system and processes.
We have also been informed that there is evidence that suggests that South Africans on the programme have been performing extremely well; holding their own against the best in the world. I am told by Professor Bhattacharyya that our candidates are amongst the best in the world. We expect no less from those from our parastatals who will be enrolled into the programme.
We are also pleased to note that an advisory board has been established to explore further other areas of co-operation between Warwick and other institutions of higher learning in the country and to harness additional resources to enable the development of a number of programmes including a major small business development initiative and programmes in association with the University of Transkei and the University of Zululand where with the CSIR’s two International Competitiveness Centres will be established. These centres will have a two-fold benefit of firstly developing a unique facility at these Universities but also creating much needed resource base to assist with the development of the local economies of these regions.
Linking these institutions with the University of Warwick adds to our own initiatives and commitment to the transformation of these institutions, and indeed enhances their teaching and research capabilities. The envisaged Centres will also enhance the institutions capacity to meet the demands of their local business community enabling these to become not only successful regional players and employers but national and world competitive industries and companies.
We will watch the progress of these initiatives with great interest. We will also encourage other state enterprises to follow suit. Above all we look forward to watching our people many of whom have untapped potential grow from strength to strength.
Let me conclude by congratulating all concerned on designing an innovative Programme and good luck to the candidates.