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)
Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online
Recent Research Reports
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...
Road and Rail 2015: A review of South Africa's road and rail sectors (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2015 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 infrastructure and network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and...
Defence 2015: A review of South Africa's defence sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Coal 2015 report examines South Africa’s coal industry with regards to the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local demand, export sales and coal logistics, projects being undertaken by the large and smaller participants in the...
Real Economy Year Book 2015 (PDF Report)
There are very few beacons of hope on South Africa’s economic horizon. Economic growth is weak, unemployment is rising, electricity supply is insufficient to meet demand and/or spur growth, with poor prospects for many of the commodities mined and exported. However,...
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book comprises separate reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Water 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Real Economy Year Book has been divided into individual reports under the banner Real Economy Insight and investigates key developments in the automotive, construction, electricity, road and rail, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum sectors.
This Week's Magazine
Energy analyst and EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland warned recently against excessive optimism regarding timescales for the proposed construction of new nuclear power plants (NPPs) in South Africa. He was speaking at a Nuclear Roundtable in Johannesburg. “I think we...
Malawi’s Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) is inviting eligible bidders to prequalify for the board’s efficiency improvement works, which will be implemented as part of the E24-million Lilongwe Water Resources Efficiency Programme. LWB CEO Alfonso Chikuni explains that...
CROATIA, AN EU MEMBER BUT NOT A TDCA MEMBER On July 1, 2013, Croatia officially became the twenty-eighth member of the European Union (EU). Despite Croatia’s accession into the EU, it is yet to become party to the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA)...
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has announced that its new Inundu airborne electronics testing, evaluation and training pod had made its first test flight on September 10. The successful flight was undertaken from Lanseria International...
The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) – which disbursed a record R13-billion during 2015, from R12.7-billion in the prior year – remained optimistic that it could ramp-up loan disbursements to R25-billion a year by 2018 as it sought to give greater emphasis...