An influential engineering delegation led by President Stanford Mkhacane of the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE), arrived in the Western Cape on 25 February 2014 for a whirlwind visit. SAICE CEO, Manglin Pillay, accompanied President Mkhacane during the four-day visit to some of the region’s leading universities, engineering consultancies, as well as prominent industry players at local government. The purpose of this visit was to engage with various constituencies with the aim of developing new relationships, tackling pertinent industry issues whilst highlighting President Mkhacane’s vision for 2014.
Mr Johan van Schalkwyk, Technical Director of Element Consulting expressed his gratitude to the President and CEO stating that he was incredibly happy that SAICE was becoming tangible to its members given that, the visit was a first of its kind for the consultancy. He further stressed that despite SAICE having no legal authority, the organisation comprised of a dynamic network, which could be highly beneficial when striving for the betterment of the engineering fraternity. Several Heads of Civil Engineering at Universities in the Western Cape also conveyed their appreciation towards SAICE for their effort to collaborate toward the future of young engineers in South Africa.
In spite of the above, many concerns were shared with regard to inadequate funding that was available for the construction and/or maintenance of laboratories, resources as well as finances to attract “top notch” lecturers. Civil Engineering lecturers from the University of Cape Town urged the Industry to partner with and support universities with mentorship programs for undergraduate engineers, events as well as funding for various resources. President Mkhacane asserted that SAICE would assist in the best ways they could. In addition, Mr Pillay and President Mkhacane, praised the Student Chapters in the Western Cape for their remarkable effort in coordinating events and encouraged them to continue to participate actively with the organisation.
During the President’s address at the historic Athenaeum, President Mkhacane and Mr Pillay expressed their gratefulness to the branch chairperson Doug Smetherham and committee for their hard work and contribution towards SAICE. Several branch members voiced their opinions on the various challenges that were being faced in the industry which included the fact that too many young engineers were hesitant to apply for registration, the shortage of civil engineering skills when carrying out projects, tenderpreneurship and most notably that there needed to be an increase in the involvement of young people, both regionally and nationally. The SAICE Western Cape branch committee proposed that the organisation needed support from inter-government to ensure that these issues could be dealt with on a larger scale.
Councillor Brett Herron and Minister Robin Carlisle of local government extended a warm welcome to the SAICE delegation and enthusiastically offered to partner with the organisation after discussing several exciting prospects with the President and CEO. Minister Carlisle stated that local government comprised of several SAICE members who he felt worked very well in the region. Additionally, he reiterated that technical staff was getting older and that younger professionals were desperately needed in the industry.