Gauteng Business News

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ENGINEERING: Engineering Council Endorses Skills Development


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The lack of successful engineering graduates, and the lack of opportunities and funding for talented indigent youth, often from rural areas, has been of great concern to the engineering sector for some time. With this issue in mind the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) has endorsed the development of the ‘South African Youth into Engineering Programme’ (SAYEP) and calls on the engineering industry to support this initiative through the sponsorship and mentoring of these students through the SAYEP programme.

“The primary objective of SAYEP is to recruit potential engineering students from the rural areas where poor high school performance, due to inadequate positive schooling, has impacted on the student’s ability to secure access to tertiary education and to be able to pursue their engineering studies successfully.

“However, while ECSA supports this SAYEP initiative wholeheartedly, it cannot succeed on this endorsement alone, and I ask the players within the engineering sectors and faculties to come to the table in terms of offering sponsorships and by participating in some of the academic support initiatives that will be offered to these indigent students via the SAYEP initiative” said Dr Oswald Franks, CEO of ECSA.

ECSA believes that the SAYEP programme will go a long way in offering constructive assistance to these students on their journey to graduating as qualified engineers. SAYEP will focus on civils, mechanical, industrial and chemical engineering disciplines. SAYEP will be piloted in partnership with the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services seta (MERSETA).

The SAYEP bursary scheme will operate differently to other mainstream bursaries inasmuch that it will reward students retrospectively of their success. The SAYEP bursary comes with a holistic support strategy in place which includes:

• Academic support
• Tertiary coping skills training
• Monthly psychological support
• Professional mentoring
• Monitoring and reporting
• Financial support
• Research and development

Franks continued “Historically students have been overlooked by university and industry recruitment programmes due to poor scholastic results and mediocre performance; and those that have managed to obtain a university placement have dropped out mid-way due to financial issues and/or lack of adequate support structures in place. The current lack of qualified engineers in South Africa has reached an unacceptable level at a time when such skills are in great demand by industry, therefore there is a dire need for a programme such as SAYEP to assist in the recruitment, mentoring and development of students through their tertiary engineering years. ECSA supports SAYEP and the large role it has to play in the development and retention of skills in South Africa.

“ECSA believes that there is a vast amount of untapped engineering potential amongst the youth in rural areas, and through the SAYEP programme, these talented but indigent youth can be successful academically and contribute to the growth of the engineering profession. The SAYEP programme has the ability to turn around the current high drop-out rate within our engineering faculties country-wide as which has exacerbated the high unemployment rate among the youth’ Franks concluded.

SAYEP is in the process of being registered as a Section 21 Non-Profit Organisation and has the following on its Board of Trustees:

• Mr Goba, Executive Chairman and former Chairman of GOBA
• Mr Naidoo, Executive Chairman of PDNA Consulting Civil Engineers
• Mr Brink, Chief Executive Officer of Jones and Wagener Consulting Civil Engineers
• Professor Kearsley of the University of Pretoria
• Dudu Mkhize Project Manager SAYEP

• Dr Oswald Franks, Chief Executive Officer of ECSA

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