With the global shift towards renewable energy sources, the demand for skilled solar professionals has never been higher. Recognising this need, the Electrical Contractors Association’s (ECA) accreditation for solar training by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) marked a pivotal moment in South Africa’s renewable energy landscape.

The next steps towards opening the first accredited Solar Training facility included coordinating the skills, technologies, equipment and talent within the Solar industry, in a collaboration to ensure the curriculum serves the best and most effective technologies, now and in the future . This collaboration not only elevates the standards of solar installation and maintenance but also offers a pathway for professionals to excel in this burgeoning field.

The Grand Opening

Situated at ECA’s Training Centre in Meadowdale, Johannesburg, ECA’s Highveld Branch, under the tireless direction of Regional Director, Anthony Schewitz, the training centre was built in record time; this great effort was more than matched by the equipment, tools and components from the Solar School Sponsors. ECA National Director, Mark Mfikoe, hosted the launch, which was structured to provide as full a picture of the context, the challenges, the evolving solutions and the catalytic impact the Solar School initiative will have.

Represented by one of its chief inspectors, the Department of Labour ensured there presence made an impact.

The importance of this initiative, at this time, has not escaped interested parties, from the government to private sector. Notably the Department Labour has a significant interest in the ECA Solar School, and was represented at the launch by one of its chief inspectors.

The Solar School was born of action taken when it became apparent that without the ECA leading the way, the path to a just energy transition for South Africa would be littered with sub-standard installations and substandard equipment. Notably it would be a path likely to bypass the substantial population still living in poverty. Not because they missed the bus, but because the bus never gets to them. Mfikoe placed great emphasis on this point; if we continue to build around and over poverty, instead for and with empowerment and enrichment, the whole structure will eventually fail.

The sponsors

“I rise to give a vote of thanks, and express my gratitude, as I call to the stage the representatives of each and every contributor who made this school possible. The equipment you see around you is worth over R2 million, and was made available to us, our future, and on the grounds of the credibility that is the ECA’s primary purpose,” were Mfikoe’s words, filled with the energy needed to complete this complex picture. Joined by then-President, now past-President of the ECA, Thursdon Duncan, past president Dean Nevay and past president Giel Labuschagne, each sponsor was called upon to join them in this round of acknowledgement and thanks. The power of collective action to make actual change was evident and visible. The sponsors of the ECA Solar School, who provided everything from Solar Panels, inverters, batteries and energy storage equipment, to tools and cables, are:


QCTO Accreditation

QCTO accreditation is a prestigious endorsement that signifies a professional’s competence in a specific trade or occupation. In the context of solar training, this accreditation showcases that an individual possesses the requisite skills to design, install, and maintain solar energy systems while adhering to safety and quality protocols.

Our current energy crisis is an opportunity to address our nation’s high unemployment rate, and we will not let this go to waste. ECA(SA) has geared its training centers for the training of installers and these have recently been assessed by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) for the PV Technician qualification, which has four exit points.

A Magnificent Testament to Collaboration and Passion

Anthony Schewitz, Regional Director of ECA’s Highveld Branch addresses the audience at the Solar School Launch

Mfikoe then called on Anthony Schewitz, Regional Director of Highveld, and Johnny Cunniff, future Regional Director. The sheer labour required of this project was fueled Anthony’s passion for the industry, and his contributions are rather astounding. With such a collective behind an already active school, it was clear the Mfikoe’s words are grounded in truth, and there is certainty in his predictions.

The team behind the dream that made the Solar School a reality on 22 November 2023.

We are building capacity to train more than 3000 PV Technicians annually. This will ensure South Africa has the number of qualified Solar Technicians and Functionaries to meet not only our needs, but those beyond our borders as well.

The big reveal; as ECA launches its first Solar School, more are already in the pipeline…much more yet to be revealed.

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