Oct 16, 2012
Funding model for engineering faculties to be reviewedBack
Construction|Engineering|Expertise|Africa|Ecsa|Education|Projects|Resources|System|Systems|Training|Africa|Australia|Chile|South Africa|United Kingdom|Manufacturing|Manufacturing Industry|Products|Systems|Allyson Lawless|Blade Nzimande|Engela Van Staden|Gwebinkundla Qonde|Infrastructure|Jacob Zuma|Oswald Franks
© Reuse this
She was speaking on behalf of Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande at the 2012 Engineering Skills Summit, in Kempton Park.
For the 2012/13 to 2014/15 infrastructure and efficiency cycle, the total funding requested by universities for engineering faculties amounted to R1.3-billion. The DHET could only provide R510-million, while universities contributed R186-million, leaving a funding gap of over R600-million.
For the 2011/ 2012 cycle, R349-million was requested, while the DHET had R316-million available.
Van Staden said there was a need for proper support mechanisms and clear systemic changes to increase the required numbers and types of engineers, engineering technologists, technicians and technical assistants in South Africa.
She added that South Africa’s basic education and school system, particularly the availability of matriculants with the appropriate level of achievement and subject choices to study engineering sciences, would have to be considered.
The enrolment planning process for 2011/12 to 2013/14 set the target of increasing the number of engineering graduates to 15 000 by 2014.
A proposal submitted to the Minister’s office from eight universities offering engineering programmes suggested that the expertise at existing, well-functioning engineering faculties be used to increase engineering graduate numbers.
The proposal outlined a projected human resources budget of R2.6-billion from 2012 to 2020 for the eight universities, of which engineering science bursaries would account for R900-million.
“We now have the opportunity to revisit our approach towards determining the realistic expansion of engineering graduates needed in specific specialisation areas,” Van Staden said.
South Africa lagged far behind in the number of engineers proportionate to population, compared with the UK, Australia and Chile, having one engineer per 3 100 persons in the population.
Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) CEO Dr Oswald Franks said it was crucial to determine the supply and demand for engineers in the specific disciplines, especially in light of President Jacob Zuma’s announcement of the R845-billion in infrastructure projects aimed at driving economic growth and development.
“The engineering skills shortage does not pertain to all the spheres of engineering and is not specific to engineering disciplines. It is not currently felt in the construction sector, but in the manufacturing industry it has become quite apparent,” he noted.
Franks added that South Africa was paying for its engineering skills deficit through its loss of global competitiveness.
"Our industries are not deliverying products, we are not developing new technologies."
ECSA council member Dr Allyson Lawless, who warned that a latent skills shortage could creep in as companies and departments get used to not having required skills, also said inefficiency in the higher education system had to be resolved, as the enrolment rate at universities was significantly higher than the rate of graduation.
In 2010, about 14 500 engineering students enrolled, but only about 2 000 graduated. At universities of technology, over 40 000 students enrolled in 2010, but less than 5 000 graduated.
Lawless raised concern about deficiencies in South Africa’s maths, science and languages education, as well students’ readiness for higher education study and independent learning.
At higher education level, she said lines of race and educational disadvantage were dictating differential throughput rates. “Improving throughputs, especially for black students, is key to increasing graduate outputs, especially given the slow pace of school reform.”
Lawless said developing skills and filling posts would require, a short-, medium- and long-term approach.
In the short term (2012 to 2014), the aim must be to harness the private sector, retired engineers and overseas capacity to get government’s major infrastructure projects off the ground, and set training conditions to all projects to ensure current graduates were adequately trained.
In the medium term (2012 to 2017), the technical structures and systems required in the public sector organisations must be redeveloped and populated with available skills.
In the long term (2012 to 2022), the country would have to start training towards fully populating the structures designed in the medium term. This would require the issuing of bursaries and major training programmes in all public sectors structures, workplace training, mentoring and coaching.
ECSA president Gwebinkundla Qonde highlighted the importance of the one-day skills summit in solving the country’s engineering skills shortage.
“Engineering and technical education is the key to the development of any nation. Infrastructure development is the foundation for eradicating poverty and inequality. It is a catalyst for meaningful direct foreign investment.
Edited by: Mariaan Webb© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Economy News
Updated 3 hours ago Despite a record year, Tongaat Hulett’s starch and cellulose division was impacted by load-shedding during the year ended March 31, CEO Peter Staude said in a telephone interview on Monday. “The starch and glucose operation, which is the only wet-miller in...
Updated 4 hours ago The Competition Commission has referred a case of alleged collusion against JSE-listed construction materials company Dawn, along with its subsidiaries DPI Plastics, Ubuntu Plastics and Sangio Pipes, to the Competition Tribunal for prosecution. The commission alleged...
Updated 5 hours ago JSE-listed Rhodes Food Group grew its turnover 12.4% to R1.3-billion for the six months ended March 29, while normalised operating profit was up 17.3% to R126-million, the company reported at its interim results presentation on Monday. The company’s normalised...
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
While economic forecasts for the African continent are most favourable, African airlines may not be able to benefit from the expected growth in the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), International Air Transport Association VP: Africa Raphael Kuuchi has warned....
The Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) will need to change substantially post 2020, says Metair Investments South African operations COO Ken Lello. “We must not make tweaks. We have to change. What we are doing is not sustainable.”
Banking group Absa’s forecast is for the rand to end the year at around R13 against the dollar, weakening further to R13.50 by 2016, says Absa sectoral analyst Jacques du Toit. He warns that possible interest rate hikes in the US may see capital being pulled from...
The Dispute Resolution Centre at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) is now open to handle party-to-party disputes. The BCCEI represents the interests of all level four to nine Construction Industry Development Board companies.
Communications technology firm Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa head Fredrik Jejdling says the company’s commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility has been integrated into all facets of its operations, which has provided it with sustainable revenue...