Employability of South African Engineers
For the month of October, the committee after some consultation opted to invite Marna Thompson and Bellah Nxumalo from Network Recruitment Agency (NRA www.networkrecruitment.co.za), specialists within the C&I domain, to present on the topic of employability.
Many interesting statistics were quoted and some that stood out highlighted the fact that electrical engineering was listed number one on the list of scarce/critical skills, but more interesting is that around 42% of engineers have a second qualification related to complementary functions like project or business management.
Also of importance is that more than half of the people surveyed have no plans to leave South Africa and will remain based in the country even while they work abroad, so if your strategy is to wait for competition to thin out you may be disappointed. Also, you may think that you will do better as people retire, however the survey revealed that many engineers when they retire continue to operate as consultants. Only 7% of matriculates have physical science and 22% mathematics higher grade, and more disheartening, only 14% of people who start tertiary study actually graduate. What this means is that C&I engineers will continue to be in demand.
Some of the job types which stand out as being scarce are automation/system integration engineers, engineers with ‘renewables’ experience, people with GGC (mining), drives people, MCC and hardware (system) designers and project managers.
Soft skills requirements deemed critical to employability includes factors such as age (read ‘experience’), flexibility (read ‘willing to travel’) and culture (read ‘attitude’).
Numerous constructive questions were raised from the audience about registration with ECSA (Engineering Council of South Africa), level of standardisation of job profiles, recruitment processes and relocation to other countries. In general terms, in excess of 80% of qualified/experienced people are absorbed relatively quickly into the market, which illustrates the employability of South African engineers both locally and abroad.
The final part of the discussions alluded to the fact that an entity such as SAIMC needs to assist with creation of an online platform where members can post their CVs and supporting documents to create an open channel to prospective employers. It is envisaged that niche service providers such as NRA form part of this initiative and possibly via ECSA roll it out to other engineering disciplines. Some more ground work is needed to ensure that efforts are not duplicated. Another opportunity which exists is to streamline the overall recruitment process and to look at standardising job profiles within our industry. This, along with existing efforts, will go a long way to standardising expectation and roles within C&I, and the convergence with IT. Ultimately this will create a more detailed career path and align the tertiary institutions with requirements from industry.
During the month of September, the Pretoria Branch Committee hosted a Golf day to assist with fund raising which was well attended. A special word of thanks goes out to attendees and also our sponsors without whom the day would not have been possible. Seen here enjoying the day are some of the participants.
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