How many crowdsourced engineers and technicians Eskom has hired to fix power stations

Eskom has hired 38 skilled engineers and technicians on a contractual basis as part of its crowdsourcing initiative seeking individuals to help rebuild the company’s skills.

The power utility launched a skills crowdsourcing portal in November 2022, calling on qualified and experienced power generation individuals to make themselves available for recruitment.

Before the platform was made available, Eskom asked such individuals to send their details and CVs to a dedicated email address.

Those who wished to submit themselves for consideration should:

  • Be a highly skilled electricity generation expert or technical professional, like an engineer, power plant operator/controller, artisan, or technician.
  • Have more than 10 years of related experience
  • Be able and willing to support Eskom
  • Be willing to transfer skills and expertise

Eskom said the chosen 38 had skills in commissioning, engineering, maintenance and operating, project delivery, quality and power plant training.

“There has been some improvement at most of our business units including those that have crowdsourcing candidates,” Eskom said.

“The improvements cannot solely be linked to the contributions of these individuals as the efforts required to improve our units require teamwork involving other employees.”

List of 300

Eskom’s crowdsourcing initiative came after pressure from labour union Solidarity, who had repeatedly offered to provide Eskom with the names and contact details of engineers and technicians it argued could be a boon to the utility’s generation turnaround efforts.

Solidarity’s offers came after Eskom lamented the flood of expertise leaving the company in the past few years, impacting the maintenance of its power stations and other operations.

The labour union was willing to assist despite blaming the main cause for the exodus on what it deemed a “reckless” race-based transformation programme, including making exit packages available to skilled Eskom workers from the year 2000 to the tune of R1.8 billion.

Solidarity’s proposals were largely ignored by Eskom and the government until public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan replied to a letter from the union in mid-2022 again offering its assistance.

In less than a month, the labour union sent a list of 300 names with CVs, including skills and historical experience, to the Department of Public Enterprises and Eskom.

Dirk Hermann, Solidarity CEO, during a media presentation announcing the organisation had sent Eskom and the department its list of skilled engineers and technicians

Solidarity said its list of proposed “turnaround agents” had a collective experience of 5,500 years working in the power sector.

Among them were qualified international project managers and internationally sought-after specialists in their field.

Altogether, they boasted over 400 accredited qualifications, of which 14 were PhDs in engineering and related fields.

Solidarity said some of the people were willing to assist without pay.

According to Eskom, no applicants who used its online crowdsourcing facility had volunteered to contribute their skills without payment.

According to Rapport, Eskom had recruited at least 18 people from Solidarity’s list by September 2022.

Eskom said it could not determine how many of the 38 appointed at the time of MyBroadband’s latest query were affiliated with Solidarity’s list.

“The application process was open to all South Africans, and appointees were selected based on skills required,” Eskom said. “We did not ask applicants to indicate their affiliation to a trade union.”

It should be noted that not all of the people on Solidarity’s list were necessarily members of the trade union.

Many were former Eskom employees whose names were collected by other former workers at the utility.

Eskom told MyBroadband that the platform was still open for new applicants, with operating skills being in the highest demand.

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How many crowdsourced engineers and technicians Eskom has hired to fix power stations