Aug 19, 2011
Engineering registration holds competitiveness, service delivery promiseBack
Construction|Engineering|Africa|Ecsa|Education|Safety|System|Systems|Africa|South Africa|Pipeline Problems|University Of Cape Town|University Of Pretoria Department|Systems|Chris Campbell|Ecsa|Hu Hanrahan|Oswald Franks|Thoko Majozi
© Reuse this
ECSA president Chris Campbell says society relies on seasoned professionals to make planning, design and financial decisions and, if such decisions are made without input from competent engineers, the health and safety of workers and the public is compromised and the product’s effectiveness is affected.
The objective of professional registration is to give the public confidence in the competence of registered persons, says ECSA special consultant Professor Hu Hanrahan. ECSA registration endorses the engineer and also makes the recruitment process easier for employers, as they do not have to test for competence, adds Campbell.
To be eligible for registration, candidates must graduate from a university, or a university of technology with a degree or diploma before entering the candidacy stage, where they must complete a period of at least three years’ work in industry, acquiring appropriate experience. However, potential candidates are often not exposed to a broad enough range of engineering experience to be adequately competent and confident enough to register, says Campbell.
Ecsa faces several challenges in encouraging engineers to register, as well as in the limited number of candidates at the different points in the registration process. ECSA CEO Dr Oswald Franks says, as opposed to taking three years to acquire the necessary experience between graduating and applying, many candidates take between 7 and 15 years, which means they would be 30 years old, or older, before being able to register, which is suboptimal.
Franks reveals that, in late June, there were 34 680 engineering professionals registered with ECSA.
In 2008, South African universities collectively produced just under 8 000 graduates, having taken ten years to double from 4 000 graduates. Government is now calling for the number of graduates to increase to 15 000 by 2014, he says
University of Pretoria Department of Chemical Engineering professor and ECSA VP Thoko Majozi adds the Minister of Education has called for 4 500 Master of Engineering graduates by 2014. Currently, only 1 200 PhD graduates are produced across the board, with only 90 in engineering. Further, there are currently about 50 000 students enrolled in some form of engineering.
The intake and number of graduates from tertiary education need to be drastically improved. Franks says universities are generally at almost full capacity and cannot take on additional students. To increase the number of graduates, new institutions would need to be established, or the effi- ciency and success of higher education systems improved – he believes the latter is a better option.
In 2007, researchers at the University of Cape Town found that only 54% of gradu- ates enrolled in a four-year BSc engineering programme, typically offered at South African universities, graduate within five years and, after five years, just under 20% are still registered. Hence, at least 25% of the students that entered the course five years prior drop out by the fifth year of study.
The situation in universities of technology is worse, with 17% of students graduating from a three-year programme after five years and more than 50% of students dropping out after five years without having qualified. The national diploma course includes a two-year academic programme and one year in industry. Franks says the latter is sometimes a contributory factor to the poor statistics, as some students, having met their academic requirements, have difficulty finding employment in industry.
In the BSc course, the study found that white students succeed at a rate of 64% within five years and black students at 32%. In the national diploma, 28% of white students succeed and 16% of the remaining designated groups. ECSA believes this research is indicative of an underperforming public school system that does not prepare students adequately for success in higher education.
Hanrahan says, previously, there was a culture and strong practice of mentoring and transfer of verbal information from mentors to mentees, which needs to be continued through another communication channel. Hence, ECSA is working on more comprehensive guides for training and mentoring, which capture as much information as possible that would previously have been passed from mentor to mentee.
ECSA is also planning on hosting an engineering summit in September, with a key theme dealing with the challenges it faces in training its candidates for regis- tration.
The ‘Global Competitiveness Report 2010–2011’, released by the World Economic Forum, ranks South Africa at 75 out of 189 countries in terms of higher education and training, and at 137 in terms of the quality of its mathematics and science education. Majozi says this has implications for the future competitive edge of the country and it requires action. The country was ranked at 54 on the global competitiveness index.
Franks believes South Africa’s ratings in the report have declined in the past three to four years as a direct consequence of its lack of engineering skills. He says service delivery inefficiencies and protests partly arise because there are young, newly graduated and inexperienced engineers in municipalities without guidance or mentoring and, as result, service delivery is delayed or postponed. Hence, the country’s declining competitiveness, service delivery challenges and the lack of engineering skills are linked.
“To retain engineers in the industry and not lose them to industries such as service providers, construction and the financial sector, they must be appropriately remunerated, capacity at service delivery levels needs to be rebuilt, technical personnel must be appropriately qualified and trained and there needs to be succession planning,” concludes Campbell.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other News This Week News
Updated 1 hour 33 minutes ago Despite various challenges related to the extraction of shale oil and gas, as countries grow accustomed to the idea, the use of shale as a form of energy will be more widely pursued, international oil and gas market analyst Michael Lynch said on Tuesday. Speaking at...
Updated 1 hour 36 minutes ago A consortium led by two Kenyan firms won a government tender to build a 1 000-MW, coal-fired power plant, company officials said on Tuesday, part of moves to satisfy rising demand for energy in East Africa's biggest economy. Kenya suffers from regular blackouts due...
Updated 1 hour 42 minutes ago The announcement of the successful bidder for the construction of Durban’s long-awaited passenger cruise terminal was imminent, Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) CEO Tau Morwe told delegates at the African Ports Evolution Conference in Durban on Tuesday. ...
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
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.
This Week's Magazine
South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel has announced its fourth consecutive year of profits. The group's results for the financial year 2013/2014 were recently announced at its head office in Centurion, south of Pretoria. Revenues grew by 17%, net...
There is little opportunity for JSE-listed infrastructure company Group Five to grow shareholder value in the domestic market, says CEO Mike Upton. He says value can still be found in the private sector, in the renewable and industrial power sector, as well as in...
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) has announced the event dates of the 2015 Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS). The event will take place from October 14 to October 25, 2015, at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec.
UK engineering support services provider Babcock is set to deliver the largest order of global truck manufacturer DAF’s truck tractors in Southern Africa to bulk carrier road-based logistics company Ngululu Bulk Carriers (NBC), with 133 trucks to be delivered in...
Digital radio communications in the African local government space can open up the world, but have many challenges to overcome, notes integration and migration of legacy radio communications infrastructure with digital mobile radio company Emcom Wireless head of...