The Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) has endorsed the decision by some municipalities to recruit retired engineers to mentor junior personnel as a way tackling shortages in the industry.
Municipalities like Ethekwini Metro have gone to the extent of recruiting retired personnel to help train young graduates emerging out of universities as a result of shortages within the profession.
With some engineers about to reach retirement age, there is need to make sure skills are retained and that those with vast skills and knowledge should impart what they have accrued over the years to new entrants into the sector.
“We hail such intervention initiatives and with the current situation, all relevant stakeholders should play a role in addressing the situation. We also encourage those retired individuals to lend a hand and ensure knowledge and skills are passed on to the young professionals to allow skills rotation in the industry,” said ECSA acting CEO Professor Hu Hanrahan.
Just like most regions, South Africa is faced with a brain drain crisis in the engineering field and is battling with shortages in the sector with the Department of Labour indicating there are serious shortages in the civil and, mechanical engineering fields.
Currently South Africa is supplementing its workforce with professionals from beyond its borders. Presently there are 1025 foreign nationals registered by ECSA as professional engineers, whilst 414 are registered in the other categories like technicians and technologists.
“We are faced with a situation where some of our engineers are opting for Europe and Australasia, and calling retired engineers to mentor young ones is one initiative running in tandem with other campaigns we have to meet the industry demands,” said Hanrahan.
Of the more than 30 000 engineering practitioners registered with ECSA, some are not practicing whilst others have been absorbed by other sectors or have opted for overseas jobs.
“We have a situation where we are competing with not only other regions for our professionals, but also other sectors are finding it ideal to employ engineering personnel. As such there is a need to supplement those we are losing by recalling those who have retired,” added Hanrahan.