Project seeks female professionals for overseas posts

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The Public Works Departments is calling on professional and experienced women to participate in an exchange programme between South Africa and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Briefing the media in Pretoria, Deputy Director General in the Public Works Department Lydia Bici said South Africa chose the UAE for its "great' strength in project management and project finance.

The new programme is modeled on the South African Advanced Education Programme (SAEP) which successfully trained and mentored in various disciplines, by placing them in top companies internationally in 1994.

It also forms part of the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition (JIPSA) which is aimed at creating skills in priority economic sectors as identified by ASGISA.

In the first phase, the programme will target previously disadvantaged professional and experienced women and later will include the youth. They will be placed in UAE companies in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Ms Bici explained that the programme was modeled in line with the South African Advanced Education Programme (SAEP).

"The focus is on both established and recently graduated unemployed professionals as well as experienced women contractors and business owners in the identified sectors,' she said.

Participants would spend between six months to a year on the programme depending on their experience and field of expertise.

"It is critical that skills acquisition should be fast-tracked and that mentoring relationships between the older professionals and the younger entrants should be cemented,' she said.

On completion, the women are set to benefit from a R372 billion put aside for public infrastructural development.

Ms Bici said at least eleven companies from both UAE and South Africa, and several municipalities both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai had agreed to absorb the first batch of participants.

Local participating companies include Mbombela consortium, which has pledged to take in 120 women and Robert and Murray construction company, which is involved as a construction consultancy in the Emirates. Mbombela is involved in the Gautrain project.

Ms Bici said that plans were also afoot to make the stay of participants smooth in the UAE. "Among the logistics arranged for successful participants, are accommodation, health insurance, an allowance and return fares,' she noted.

The second phase of the programme is scheduled to take place late this year.
People looking for further information regarding the programme are advised to contact Lydia Bici on (012) 337-2400

By Sello Tang and Zibonele Ntuli - BuaNews