Registered employees take more responsibility

July 14th, 2014, Published in Articles: Vector

 

Service delivery and the broader economy require not just more engineering graduates, but more registered engineering professionals who able to take responsibility and make decisions independently while ensuring the highest level of quality and safety. This is why organisations must work towards developing all engineering staff towards professional registration with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).

Making staff more valuable

It is not difficult to see why registered employees are so valuable to a company. Apart from the positive end-result (registration staff can sign off on projects), these workers gain a wide range of essential skills.

Candidates must demonstrate that they can not only analyse engineering problems but also develop solutions. They must understand and apply advanced knowledge, including general principles and specific aspects of their jurisdictions and local areas.

Communication imperative

It is critical for the businesses that staff manage engineering activities and communicate clearly with others in the course of doing so. Taking a broad and forward view of what they are doing is also vital: they must develop forward thinking and address the social, cultural and environmental impact of their projects, as well as the legal requirements and health and safety aspects.

Ethical conduct ECSA also requires candidates to demonstrate ethical conduct and to take responsibility for the engineering decisions they make. All these demands raise the calibre of candidate in the workplace and therefore uplift the profile of the company.

Better returns, lower risk

The skills learnt in the lead-up to professional registration create a strong foundation for the candidate and the engineering company can rely on for years to come, in the servicing of clients’ needs– knowing that staff is legally and professionally capable of tackling complex projects independently, or can actively contributte to project teams. This means less time-consuming management, lower risk and better returns.

Skills transfer

Supporting development towards registration ensures that there is a continuous cycle of skills transfer, and experience within the business – ensuring that the expertise can be built up over the years and effectively passed down from one generation to the next. How else is a business to remain sustainable and retain its competitive edge?

Developing the profession

The reality is that the engineering profession is at risk – a rare skill with a dearth of 35 – 55-year-old professionals. The development of engineering graduates to the point of registration is therefore a national priority which requires targets, policy and funding.

The SETAs are being encouraged to make discretionary funds available to support companies in their efforts to provide structured workplace experience to graduates. ECSA has been lobbying the Department of Higher Education and Training to set national targets, not only for graduation, but for candidacy programmes and to fund the candidate phase. Calls for expressions of interest from SETAs are increasingly reflecting support for graduate internships or candidate programmes.

Candidate programmes are no longer luxuries but are fast becoming key to addressing South Africa’s ever-increasing demand for engineering professionals. Candidates are also quick to see where organisations will invest in them and move there as soon as opportunity arises.

Organisational commitment

Addressing the problem starts with the organisation’s commitment to fill its engineering workforce with registered professionals as well as supporting graduates to become registered and to stay registered.

Acting ECSA CEO Edgar Sabela says research has confirmed that companies investing in structured training and mentoring of their graduates record higher levels of productivity from their graduates when compared with their counterparts whose training and mentoring is not structured.

Commitment and undertaking

Organisations should start by registering a “commitment and undertaking” (C&U) with ECSA, ensure that their graduates register as candidates and provide them with appropriate projects, supervisors and mentors to oversee and monitor their progress.

The sooner companies invest in this process; the quicker candidates can pick up the workload and take responsibility.

Registration with ECSA is just one step in the continuous development of engineering staff that will allow your business to retain them and to plan ahead for succession. Knowing that there is a plan for their advancement also encourages younger staff to contribute fully to the business; if they regard themselves as part of the business’s future, you can rely on their commitment.

Contact Thoko Machimane, Strategic Services Engineering Council of South Africa, Tel 011 607-9500, thoko@ecsa.co.za

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