Aug 19, 2011
Engineering registration holds competitiveness, service delivery promiseBack
Construction|Africa|Design|Ecsa|Education|Engineering|Health|Safety|System|Systems|Technology|Training|Africa|Service|Systems|University Of Cape Town
© 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
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
To subscribe email email@example.com or click here
To advertise email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
Other News This Week News
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
Energy Roundup – February 2016 (PDF Report)
The February 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for December 2015 and January 2016 and includes details of a Government Gazette notice that confirms Cabinet’s decision to move ahead with the 9 600 MW nuclear procurement programme; State-owned power...
Energy Roundup - December 2015 (PDF Report)
The December 2015 roundup includes details of State-owned utility Eskom’s application to claw back R22.8-billion; South Africa’s ranking as an investment destination for renewable energy; and a nuclear expert’s thoughts on reactor designs for South Africa’s nuclear...
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
This Week's Magazine
Lifting, transporting, installing and ballasting solutions provider Ale has expanded its global fleet of trailers and invested in the latest range of widening trailers that can be mechanically widened from 3 m to the desired width for any project. Ale ordered 48 axle...
The market for the BMW 7 Series in South Africa differs quite significantly from the rest of the world. China, the US and the Middle East almost exclusively buy the long-wheel-base version, using the German manufacturer’s luxury high-end sedan as a chaffeur-driven...
January new-vehicle sales fell by 6.9%, to 48 615 units, compared with the same month last year. Statistics released by the Department of Trade and Industry show that the domestic new passenger-car market declined by 6.1%, to 34 936 units, compared with 12 months ago.
Information technology (IT) equipment and infrastructure multinational Dell is providing open infrastructure systems for clients so that they can use any systems, including innovative new systems, that suit their business needs, says Dell Europe, Middle East and...
South Africa’s State-owned defence industrial group, Denel, has set up another international partnership, based in Hong Kong. This new subsidiary is Denel Asia and it is a joint venture (JV) with South African private sector company VR Laser.