Fees have fallen but more needs to be done - avers CESA YPF

Concerned Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA)’s Young Professionals Forum (YPF) are in solidarity with the students at tertiary institutions across the country in their fight against exorbitant fees and fee increases.

CESA YPF is worried about the inequality that is eating away at the fabric of our society. The success of the national #FeesMustFall movement has demonstrated the power of focused engagement in bringing about positive change.

"However, the damage to public and university property, as well as isolated incidents of violence is condemned in the strongest possible terms and reduced the ability of the students to make a meaningful impact," cautions YPF Chairpersons Jeshika Ramchund Moonsamy.

She notes that #FeesMustFall may have brought temporary reprieve to the thousands of students, who were desperately trying to complete their studies. This depicts only one side of the warped coin. "We have barely unpacked the reality of the vast number of students who are unable to secure workplace training to complete their studies and exacerbated by the lack of meaningful jobs for new graduates and entrants to the job market."

With South Africa's GDP at 1.3% in the three months to June of 2015, the worst performance since the 2009 recession, businesses continue to struggle to stay afloat. CESA represents over 537 consulting engineering practices (member firms) and as the driver of infrastructure development is engaging with government on maximizing the benefit of infrastructure development for economic growth and the ability of the construction sector to drive employment and training. It has been instrumental in tackling issues related to procurement of professional services, promoting service delivery and stopping the scourge of corruption that erodes government’s ability to deliver much needed services.

Ramchund Moonsamy adds that CESA YPF is particularly concerned about the students in engineering and construction related studies. At the launch of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation Africa Engineering Week at the University of Johannesburg in September 2014, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor highlighted a shortage of engineers in South Africa and made a clarion call to increase the graduate pool.

"However, the recent CESA YPF National Survey revealed that a staggering 71% of YP’s in the industry know students at tertiary institutions that cannot find vocation work and in-service training in order to complete their qualifications. It is also worrying that 65% of YP’s in the industry who graduates in engineering (Bachelor of Science and National Diploma) have difficulty in finding employment after graduation."

It is commendable that government have identified the essential nature of adequate engineering skills in the country however an enabling environment is required to attract, train and retain engineering skills.

CESA YPF urges the government on behalf of the potential entrants and students of the industry to put initiatives in place to address the anomalies in procurement and to accelerate the ability of infrastructure service delivery to create a multitude of skilled and unskilled job opportunities across South Africa.