One focal point of Project Koba-Tlala, the SA National Defence Force’s (SANDF) contribution to government’s National Development Plan, is the private security sector particularly in the North West.
The province was selected to run a number of pilots for Koba-Tlala, including the upskilling of Reserve Force members, provision of produce to military bases and creation of Reserve Force driven co-operatives.
The project is driven by the Reserve Force component of the SA Army and the need to ensure long-term wellbeing for the part-timers.
The approach to the security sector has resulted in what project officer, Lieutenant Colonel Philip Coetzer, calls “talent management, skills development and further education in practice”.
Working on the base assumption of the Reserve Force as trained soldiers and the need to accommodate them in work situations where their training can add value when not in uniform brought up employment possibilities in the private security sector.
This, along with identified opportunities, saw a pilot project initiated through short SASSETA (SA Safety and Security Training Agency) accredited skills programmes. The programmes attended by date by Reserve Force members have concentrated on asset protection, access control and patrol protection.
The first 100 Reserves to be brought in to the SASSETA programme were from Reserve Force units in North West province. They started the re- and upskilling in October last year and another 100 will complete similar training by the end of March.
The training, being security focused, gives the part-time soldiers an opportunity to find work in a sector of the economy they are comfortable with and have the basic training to handle, Coetzer said.
Support for the initiative comes from Brigadier General Gerhard Kamffer, Director: SA Army Reserves, who sees the SASSETA/Army Reserves partnership as a good example of reskilling where basic skills are added to and boosted rather than starting from scratch.
The next step in the re- and upskilling of part-time soldiers is to expand and enhance programmes of the security sector type. This, Kamffer said, will see Reserves making a meaningful contribution to and impact on their local communities.
At the hub of the programme is the need to see part-time soldiers find “proper work and not be relegated to junior and often lowly paid positions” when not in uniform.
“Ultimately, we see part-time soldiers who have had re- and upskilling utilised in supervisory and even management positions,” Kamffer said.