Partnership builds community relations practice in extractive industries

August 4th, 2019, Published in Articles: PositionIT

The Wits Mining Institute and Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry (WMI/CSMI) has partnered with Synergy Global to deliver training to community relations practitioners across Africa. Completion of the four courses leads to a programme qualification at NQF Level 6. Each course is also available to delegates as a certificate of either attendance or competence. The partnership is in its seventh year, with between 70 and 120 delegates qualifying in this area every year. This is a significant acceleration of African skills in community relations practice. with between 70 and 120 delegates qualifying in this area every year; The WMI is currently in consultation with Synergy Global and the relevant Schools at Wits in order to raise the level of the qualification to NQF 9, making it a Master’s degree specialisations in this area of knowledge.

The March course, titled Managing Community Impacts, was facilitated by Noleen Dube and Alison McCallum. As with all the short courses offered in this programme, the week was enriched by building relationships between practitioners from different companies, sharing stories of challenges faced, and by stepping out of our normal (often inadequate) ways of understanding and developing solutions for the complex challenges that are part of peoples’ “new normal”.

This particular course, influenced by the many problems associated with community relations with mining companies, asked questions such as:

  • What are we not seeing?
  • Where are the points of advantage for meaningful intervention?
  • What old ways of doing things do we need to let go of?
  • In what ways does the community relations profession need to better capacitate itself to effect real change both externally and internally?

Guest speakers stimulated thought about the role of policies and procedures, and how to increase influence and effect within individual organisations. According to Paul Kapelus, director of Synergy Global, one of the key values of this programme is the way in which it is supporting the professionalisation and career path development of community relations practitioners within industry. This effects the ability of practitioners to have real influence and positive effect within and outside of their organisations.

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