Exodus of engineers bleeds construction sector

Weekend Argus reports that the shortage of engineers in SA has had a huge impact on the construction sector and infrastructure development. This is according to the chief executive of the SA Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (Safcec), Webster Mfebe. Last week, Unesco observed Africa Engineering Week, throwing the spotlight on critical issues impacting the engineering sector. Mfebe observed that SA’s failing infrastructure and the exodus of engineers meant that the country was regressing in terms of infrastructure development. He pointed out that there was only one engineer for approximately 300,000 people in the country as opposed to one engineer for 200 in Germany.

In 2019 more than 110 engineering and technical skills were lost because of violent site disruption and in 2022 more than 90 companies closed their doors as engineers looked for greener pastures in countries such as Ireland, the UK, the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan. “The engineers who are leaving the country are experienced and skilled ones. We will be left with unregistered ones and who, if given opportunities, might pose a risk to public safety,” warned Mfebe. Deon Van Zyl, chairperson of the Western Cape Property Development Forum, has raised concerns about the exodus and the government’s co-operation with Irish companies recruiting SA graduates in the construction and civil engineering sector. Van Zyl pointed out Ireland was building 33,000 new homes per year, and would be retrofitting 500,000 homes by 2030. To achieve this, the country was recruiting “our construction and engineering professionals en masse”.

Ref: SA Labour News
by Bulelwa Payi

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