HUNDREDS of female learners across the country gained a glimpse into the workings of the national port system and the wide range of career opportunities it offered when they were hosted by Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) on national “Take a Girl Child to Work Day” on 25 May.
During the past 15 years of TNPA’s support of this initiative, the authority has seen a growing number of women take up key positions – not only in finance, corporate affairs and human resources but in operational roles such as dredge masters, tug masters and pilots – traditionally filled only by men.
To participate in TNPA’s programme for the day girls must be in grades 10 to 12 and studying English, Mathematics and Physical Science at high school level, as these are required for many of the mission critical roles in the maritime industry.
“We are on a mission to develop “Smart People’s Ports” using the latest technology in order to grow our business, which is continually evolving in order to remain internationally competitive,” explains TNPA’s Chief Executive, Richard Vallihu.
“We need highly skilled, innovative and dynamic people to take our business forward. Exposing learners to careers available in the port system is a way in which we hope to inspire young people to acquire the qualifications to enter our business, and to encourage girls to fully participate in our industry.”
In keeping with TNPA’s commitment to supporting communities in the areas in which it operates, the girl visitors this year included a combination of employees’ children and previously disadvantaged learners from TNPA’s adopted schools.
Learners in Grades 10-12 were hosted at TNPA’s head office as well as at the various ports.
After an overview of the port system, the learners in grades 10 to 12 spent the day “shadowing” senior staff as they went about their day. In Durban, Richards Bay, East London, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, Cape Town and Saldanha the visits included a tour of the port and its operations.
Head office participant, Lubna Dildar, 15, from Marlboro Gardens Secondary School, dreams of becoming an engineer.
She says: “The job shadowing made me aware of all the amazing and interesting careers that I can pursue. It really opened my eyes to all the opportunities out there as well as my capabilities.”
Grade 12 learner Nokuthula Yende, 18, from Dr BW Vilakazi Secondary School says she wants to be a marine pilot.
“Being in the engineering department was really useful. I learned more about the vessels and how to actually drive a vessel. It was amazing.”
Learners hosted by TNPA were from:
- Port of Durban – 20 learners in total from Menzi High School, Umlazi Commercial High School and Isipingo Secondary School, all based in the South Durban Basin
- Port of Richards Bay – 20 learners from Ilizwi High School in eMandlanzi, Ndlabeyilandula High School in Meerensee, Qhakaza High School in Empangeni, Birdswood Secondary School and Gcwalulwazi High School in Eshowe
- Port of Cape Town – learners from Lawhill Maritime Centre in Simon’s Town and Matthew Goniwe Memorial High School in Khayelitsha
- Port of Saldanha – hosted 10 learners from Louwville High School in Vredenburg
- Port of East London – 20 learners from Ebenezer Majombozi High School in Gompo; Gwaba High School in Kwelerha; Greenpoint Secondary School in Buffalo Flats; Lingelethu High School in Ncera; Sandisiwe High School in Mdantsane; Zweliyandila High School in Chalumna; and George Randell High School in East London – all hosted through the port’s partnership with ITEC which provides Saturday classes in Mathematics and Science to 21 schools, sponsored by TNPA East London
- Ports of Ngqura and Port Elizabeth hosted the daughters of employees
- Head Office – 35 learners from Dr BW Vilakazi Secondary School in Soweto and Forest High School in Johannesburg, as well as daughters of employees
- The Port of Mossel Bay will participate at a later date, hosting 20 girls from Indwe Secondary School and Hillcrest High School on 31 May.