From 8 to 10 October the Youth in Construction initiative had considerable success in Kimberley in the Northern Cape. Twenty one schools from Kimberley, Delportshoop, Groblershoop, Barkley-West and Warrenton attended the exhibition which was well-supported by the Northern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DED&T) and the local construction industry.
Approximately 2 500 learners were exposed to one of the largest employers in the country, i.e. the civil engineering and construction industry. Its role as a key driver of economic and social development was explained to the learners. Youth in Construction encourages learners to become exposed to these fields of study and also acts as a channel for the building sector to reach out to and encourage school learners to join the industry.
During the opening ceremony, Godfrey Ramalisa, Manager: Client Liaison at ECSA explained the importance of civil engineering and construction and inspired the learners to work hard at mathematics while at school – unlike himself who thought that a pass mark was good enough. However, while studying at the Technikon (now university of technology) he excelled by achieving very high marks in mathematics! He truly inspired the learners.
In the MEC of the DED&T’s address the learners were urged not to under-estimate the opportunity presented to them as government has identified infrastructure as one of the job drivers. They were encouraged to ask, find out, go back and match their efforts in school to ensure they are able to access the opportunities explained at the various exhibition stands.
The Youth in Construction initiative was launched in 2008 and is the only project successfully implemented jointly by all the sister organisations i.e. the Construction Industry Development Board )IDB), the South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC), the South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE), Consulting Engineers SA (CESA) and Gauteng Master Builders North across the country.
Due to the variety of exhibitors at the event learners were given an overall view of the industry. To find the much-needed balance between professional and technical qualifications, learners received a hands-on feel for various aspects of the industry, from the civil engineer planning and designing a project to seeing and touching the huge yellow machines used in construction.
Another important aspect is to motivate learners to select science and core mathematics as opposed to only the maths literacy syllabus, as both these subjects will ensure that any area of further study and eventual career option is open to them.
Youth in Construction is aimed at learners from grade 9 to grade 12, FET colleges, universities and universities of technology students. Since its inception, about 21 000 learners from diverse backgrounds have been exposed to the industry.
What was very heartening was the interest of the educators in and their engagement with exhibitors. If they have the information the learners will benefit for many years to come.
Together we can convey the importance of South Africa’s civil engineering and construction industry as a national asset and its critical link to skills development, infrastructure creation and service delivery.