Jun 15, 2012
Let’s address our professionals as Eng So and SoBack
Engineering|Africa|Africa|Austria|Germany|South Africa|United Kingdom|Illness|Mackenzie Hoy|Matron|Reverend|Sister|Soom|Van Der Westhuizen|Viljoen|West Africa
© Reuse this
Further, they identify themselves by the use of the title. You will phone up and the person will answer: “Yes, it’s Father John speaking” or “Dr Soom speaking”. The titles are important – if you are in a hospital, you really want to know if you are discussing your medication options with Sister Claudia or the floor sweeper. The same is true if you hope for somebody to diagnose an illness – you would rather be talking to Dr Soom than his alter ego Mr Standloperboytjies, who is in charge of the rodent control plan, which is why he is wearing a white coat.
One would think that there would be an attempt for some of the unrecognised professions to have title recognition. For example, in West Africa, I am routinely referred to as Engineer Mackenzie Hoy (well, also C’est stupide d’Afrique du Sud) and the same would happen in Germany or Austria. But not in South Africa or England.
It would, I think, be handy for members of the public to know that they are dealing with somebody who has some qualification and, thus, having titles for an engineer or a lawyer would be convenient, I think. Or would it? One must look to what happens in any of the large commercial hospitals. They make the nursing staff wear ‘scrubs’ or the garb that they would wear when working in an operating theatre. The staff wear these even when they are in the wards where the scrubs are unnecessary. Why? This is to conceal the fact that, of the 12 or so nursing staff in the ward, only two are actually qualified nurses. The rest are nursing aids, which is to say they have a very basic qualification, if at all.
Members of the public call all of them Sister and nobody corrects them. In the same way, if we were to now insist on addressing qualified engineers as Engineer, then the result would be that the public would quickly find out how many people they deal with are, in fact, not qualified. If I meet somebody who says he or she is a qualified engineer, I will routinely check this up with the univer- sity or institution and I am often quite amazed at the bald audacity that emerges when I find that the person is not qualified. These individuals say: “Oh, I have much more experience than an engineer” or “I feel that I am an engineer.” It is hard to get the lay public to appreciate that there is a difference between a qualified person and an unqualified one – the dangers are so obscure.
If I say to the public: “Would you rather the driver of the school bus have a licence or not?” the affir- mative response is swift. If I say: “Would you rather the bus be designed by an engineer or not?” the response is less sure. If I say: “Would you rather the electrics in your building be signed off by an engineer?” the response is rather vague.
Naturally, things could get out of hand and even become cumbersome. If we took the matter to a distant point, we could end up with silly titles. I would have to call Cecile Office Manager Van der Westhuizen and Rachel Design Engineer Viljoen. (I could get away with addressing the rest of the staff as FI, which would stand for Fellow Inmate.)
Getting back to the point, I think that having the title ‘Engineer’ should apply to qualified engineers in South Africa, as much as it does in over 40 other African countries. There was an attempt to apply the title ‘Ing’ to South African engineers but this fell away. Now it is very unlikely that any of the engineering bodies will address this matter. They address so few matters that one more will certainly not be on the agenda. So we have to do it ourselves. From now on, I am going to sign my business correspondence as Eng Mackenzie Hoy, PrEng. I encourage all you engineers out there to do the same.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Terry Mackenzie-Hoy News
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
The multibillion-rand development of the Zendai Modderfontein New City, east of Johannesburg, will aim to exemplify an integrated city node, says property group Zendai South Africa COO Wenhui Du. The development will focus on the Modderfontein Gautrain station to be...
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) hopes to have finalised regulations for the flying of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs) – also designated Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) and popularly called drones – in the country’s civilian airspace by the end...
Various stakeholders have expressed optimism that the Small Business Development Ministry, created after the national elections in May, will add much needed impetus to enterprise development in South Africa, where a strengthening of the entrepreneurial culture is...
Capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) is the only way through which the world will achieve the lowest of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) global warming predictions, called the representative concentration pathway (RCP) 2.6....
The City of Johannesburg has recovered R107-million following the arrest of 22 people allegedly involved in corruption, collusion, fraud and tampering with the city’s electricity systems, which had ultimately cost the city R200-million in lost revenue.