SA has one engineering professional for every 3,000 citizens, according to the Engineering Council of SA (ECSA).
Despite the shortage many companies, post the hosting of the 2010 Soccer World Cup, are opting to retrench engineering resources and limiting the hiring of graduates due to decreasing numbers of projects available in the public and private sectors.
The engineering profession in SA, as well as the rest of the continent, has the potential to grow substantially as the infrastructure development requirements range from roads and rail to coal-fired power stations, geothermal power generation and lately nuclear energy generation.
“As seen during the preparation for the World Cup, infrastructure development is key to growing our economy and job opportunities. Also, at a micro level, infrastructure development programmes can be used to promote gender equality and create greater focus on environmental sustainability,” says Christopher Campbell, ECSA president.
Many developing countries, including SA, are still grappling with the challenge of meeting the needs for piped fresh water supply and water borne-sanitation, as well as the provision of affordable housing and functional integrated public transport systems.
“Engineering professionals are ideally positioned and skilled to drive this process. African countries are planning to grow even more and when one considers the numbers of local professionals available, in conjunction with service delivery challenges, it is clear that we are in dire need of more engineering practitioners,” adds Campbell.
ECSA said it had taken a proactive stance in addressing the shortage of engineering professionals in SA.
“We believe that our sphere of influence should start at schools, continue at tertiary level and extend to the mentoring of graduates during employment so that we are able to increase the number of professionally registered engineering practitioners. By doing so we hope to rectify transformation issues that go deeper than race and gender,” says Campbell.