By: System Author
1st September 2000
He laments that the number of black engineers in all fields of South African engineering is minuscule.
It is believed that there are only about 1 000 registered black engineers to the 15 000 registered white engineers dominating South Africa’s engineering fraternity at present.
This excludes the other previously-disadvantaged groups, such as registered coloured and Indian engineers, which together amount to about 2 000.
“Black engineers should be part and parcel of the economy,” states Gamde.
He believes that one of the ways to begin attending to the problem of the shortage of black engineers in the country is to focus on promoting engineering and the importance of science and technology to black people at an early age.
“There is this huge gap that needs to be filled and we can start by encouraging young black people to become engineers at school level by holding talks and workshops. “This will create awareness about the advantages and disadvantages of a career in engineering.
“We could also try to tackle any financial problems experienced by black scholars by providing advice about study loans and bursaries,” he says. Gamde believes that one of the biggest challenges facing black engineers is the lack of mentorship being offered by companies.
“Many companies do not have programmes which give good experience in good time.
“Black engineers have been unable to overcome these problems and, as a result, have not been able to manage their careers properly,” he laments.
The NSBE, which was launched in Gauteng last month, aims to ensure full and meaningful participation of black engineers in the mainstream economy.
The society was first launched in Kwazulu-Natal in 1998, following with the Eastern Cape in 1999.
It hopes to reach 500 members with the incorporation of the Gauteng province.
Gamde reports that the society will be launched in the Western Cape and Mpumalanga next year.
The society was first started as a study group by black engineering students from the university of Kwazulu-Natal.
As the study group became more popular and began to attract more students, it eventually grew into an organisation.
“It was then decided that the organisation had to begin operating from outside the university, providing services such as mentorship to its members and helping them find jobs, says Gamde.
At the launch of the society, ABB Karebo Manufacturers chairperson Peter Kgame said black engineers were playing an important role in transforming society.
“The challenge for engineering is to demystify the profession and to encourage more participation by black people,” he said.
MEC for Development, Planning and Local Government of the Gauteng Premier’s office Trevor Fowler said that increasing the number of black engineers is an important focus of development.
Edited by: System Author