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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  05 Nov 2008

ENGINEERING: Registration Could Spark Skills Exodus


Recent Western Cape Business News

If legislation to lower the current registration standards for South African engineers is passed, it could lead to an exodus of professional skills. And given the country’s shortage of engineers and the massive global demand for engineering talent, this could be a disaster.

So says Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, Managing Director of Cape Town-based Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters, who says engineering skills are currently at a premium all over the world. She says the proposed SA government legislation to change the international recognition that SA engineers currently enjoy, could not come at a worse time.

“The Built Environment Professions (BEP) Bill, which has already been approved by the Public Works committee, proposes to do away with the independent system of registering new engineers.

‘The system, which currently includes peer review independent of any government direction, is the basis for international accords and recognition agreements around the world. But SA legislation could soon cause changes to this.

“The current registration system is a rigorous process which includes graduate engineers working under mentorship for two years with a company approved by the Engineering Council of SA (Ecsa). Ecsa then considers reports from the candidates’ mentors and recommends for peer review. This includes written and oral exams by two professionals from Ecsa regulating the specific discipline such as electrical or civil engineering or quantity surveying. Ecsa then receives a report on the basis of which it either grants registration or not.”

Goodman-Bhyat says although the process is quite involved, it is essential for international standardisation.

“Although government’s intention is to make it easier for professionals to become registered, it seems that the bill in its current form is being pushed through too hastily.

“The effect could be to send skilled engineers who want to protect their coveted international recognition scrambling for positions overseas. This will further exacerbate our serious shortage of skilled professionals in SA,” she says.

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