Africa, together with the rest of the world is faced with an ongoing dilemma – a shortage of engineers. This has been a major concern given that; there has been a declining interest in the profession. Engineering is vital in addressing basic human needs, improving the quality and standard of living as well as providing opportunities for sustainable development. It is thus mandatory to ensure that the profession is communicated heavily to the number of young people choosing engineering as a career.
UNESCO together with its strategic partners hosted the first ever Africa Engineering Week in Johannesburg, South Africa between 1 – 5 September 2014. The inaugural event was hosted with the aim of educating the youth and general public about the engineering profession, through strategic outreach activities such as, educational workshops, public awareness events, mentoring and university events. The purpose of these events were to showcase engineers as key players in the solutions to important continental challenges such as sustainable housing, the provision of clean drinking water and issues around climate change, whilst increasing the visibility of engineering and its role in sustainable development as a whole.
The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) had the honour of interacting with many of the country’s high school learners and enticing them on the world of civil engineering. SAICE’s career guidance and Public Relations team hosted two exhibiting stands in an effort to explain the various civil engineering disciplines, information about the organisation as well as the different events, competitions and benefits associated with SAICE. Flocks of learners gathered around the stands daily, to participate in the ‘Name-the-iconic-structure’ competition, in which, participants had 5 minutes to name structures around the world that were featured on a poster. Each day ended with a lucky draw where a random entry was chosen for the grand prize.