Management of skills shortages within Eskom : a case study of Medupi Power Station, Lephalale, South Africa
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The study explores issues around human resources and training within Eskom using the Medupi Power Station as a case study. This power station is currently being constructed in the Limpopo province approximately 350 kilometres north of Gauteng. The main aim of the study was to identify the skills shortages on the project and make recommendations on how to manage them in the long and short term. The research objectives included ascertaining the types of skills shortages being experienced and perceptions regarding the employment of expatriates and their contribution to knowledge transfer at Eskom. The mixed methods approach was utilised to conduct the research. The combination of quantitative and qualitative methods using questionnaires and interviews provided detailed and relevant data for addressing the research questions. A sample of 48 highly skilled employees who are currently working on the Medupi Project participated in the study. They included senior management, engineering and other technical staff and human resources personnel. The results revealed the nature of the skills shortages on the Project, namely supervisory, civil engineering and contracts management skills. The findings regarding the employment of expatriates reveal that they are employed on a contract basis and can terminate their contract on a short notice. This has an adverse effect on continuity on the Project. In addition, the local employees believed that the expatriates are chiefly motivated by the financial incentives and are not fully capable of transferring skills as they do not have power station experience. The study proposes a new knowledge transfer model for the Medupi Project. According to this model, the line management’s ability to provide an enabling work environment and support for on-the-job training influences knowledge transfer. Furthermore, employee motivation to acquire and utilise a newly learnt skill on the job, the setting of goals that are achievable given the multitude of constraints experienced on the Project, and senior management support are key determinants of line managements’ success in providing an enabling knowledge transfer environment.