Jul 06, 2012
Cronin calls on ECSA to support enlargement of engineering poolBack
Engineering|Africa|Ecsa|Education|Africa|Brazil|China|India|South Africa|Charles Nupen|Chris Campbell|Ecsa|Infrastructure|Jeremy Cronin|Oswald Franks|Thulas Nxesi
© Reuse this
In a frank address to ECSA members, Cronin described South Africa’s current ratio of one engineer for every 3 166 citizen as representing a real challenge, particularly in the context where infrastructure development had been identified by government as the main “countercyclical” economic growth measure.
By contrast, China has an engineer for every 130 of its more than one-billion people, while the ratio in India and Brazil was one to 157 and one to 227 respectively.
This “huge problem” was attributed partly to the educational shortcomings arising out of apartheid and the prevailing education backlogs, particularly in ensuring that the basic maths and science foundations were in place.
But the transition from graduation to the registration of engineering professionals remained an area of concern for government, which was fuelled, Cronin asserted, by the stop/start nature of workflow, some gatekeeping and, possibly, even by pockets of “unconscious racism” among those mentoring the new crop of graduates.
“There are anecdotal stories of white engineering graduates being rotated through the various requirements for registration, while a young black colleague . . . sits for years [without making similar progress],” Cronin warned.
It was also “not good enough” that only 25% of professionals in the built environment professions were black. “It’s not only not representative, but it also means that we are not tapping into a huge human resource in our country.”
He urged engineering professionals not to “fly false flags” of “talking about standards” that is really a “gatekeeping exercise” in a bid to keep the pool small and the rewards high for the profession. Nevertheless, ECSA had a duty to uphold professional standards, which were absolutely “vital” to ensure quality delivery.
The Department of Public Works (DPW) felt that it was necessary to “reinvigorate, perhaps in a very different form” the Built Environment Professions Bill, which was strongly opposed by ECSA and a number of the other built environment statutory councils and was eventually withdrawn in late 2008.
“We need to coordinate and different professions in the built environment need to work together, while acknowledging the differences,” Cronin indicated.
The DPW, which met with the Council for the Built Environment earlier in the month, was ready to bring a mediator, in the form of Charles Nupen, to mediate between the council and the various built environment bodies that have hitherto opposed the creation of a super council.
The idea was to “surface” the tensions and find a way to deal with them in the interests of the professions, which were concerned with standards and quality, and government, and which had a role to play in regulating the professions.
“We can run into silly tensions, oppositions and antagonisms and fail together. Or, with our challenges, work together and succeed,” Cronin averred.
He indicated that any programme of legislative reform would be run in parallel with a turnaround strategy that was currently under way to “clean up the mess” within a department that was always in the news for the “wrong reasons”.
Cronin said internal disciplinary action was being pursued along with criminal investigations and prosecutions, with the DPW having lodged eight criminal charges against officials with the South African Police Service.
ECSA president Chris Campbell acknowledged the call for greater cooperation between the built environment professions, and welcomed the DPW’s recognition of the differences between the professions.
But Campbell stressed that there could be no generic mechanism to make them more equal, as such a process carried a number of risks.
ECSA also welcomed the fact that Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi had appointed its new 50-member council, who were selected to provide a broad representation of all engineering disciplines and categories.
“We are pleased with the Minister’s appointments as this is in line with a decision ECSA took in 2010 that in order to be relevant to all our stakeholders – our role required us to perform beyond our mandate,” CE Oswald Franks said.
Franks added that the new council would work with government to ensure the engineering profession helped to address broader socioeconomic and developmental needs.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Updated 34 minutes ago Work has officially started at Cennergi’s R3.5-billion Amakhala Emoyeni wind farm, located near Bedford, in the Eastern Cape. The 138 MW project was among the 19 renewable-energy and seven wind projects selected following the second bid window under the South...
Updated 38 minutes ago Denel’s Seeker 400 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) system has successfully completed the second round of flight tests as part of its development process. The tests, conducted at the Alkantpan range in the Northern Cape, included an evaluation of the system for range...
Updated 1 hour 18 minutes ago Pulp and paper manufacturer Sappi was headed for a year of profitability as the stronger-than-expected third quarter delivered improved performance within all its operations, barring North America. Despite being a traditionally seasonally weaker quarter, the three...
Recent Research Reports
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Steel 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the steel industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the global and South African steel and stainless steel markets, South Africa’s major steel producers and events that have shaped these markets.
This Week's Magazine
Multinational semiconductor chipmaker corporation Intel announced its national campaign to further acquire partners to drive its She Will Connect programme, an initiative that aims to expand digital literacy skills to young women in developing countries, further into...
South Africa's MeerKAT radio telescope array programme should get back on schedule within a few months. This assurance has been given by SKA South Africa (SKA SA) associate director: science and technology Prof Justin Jonas. Early last month, Science and Technology...
The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (PRASA’s) Metrorail service will remain a subsidised service following its current multibillion-rand rolling stock, station, depot and signalling upgrade programme. PRASA group CEO Lucky Montana has allayed fears that...
The uncertainties around the remediation of affected areas as addressed in the Contaminated Land Provisions in the National Environmental Management: Waste Act No 59 of 2008 will possibly spark litigation and disputes between landowners and businesses, contractors...
South Africa is currently the largest component of the African Development Bank’s (AfDB’s) active portfolio in Southern Africa, comprising 62.5% of the bank’s $7.9-billion exposure to the 12-country region – the second largest beneficiary is Mauritius, which...