Survey shows new engineering profile in SA

April 25th, 2014, Published in Articles: EngineerIT, Articles: Vector


The National Engineering Skills Survey was launched to determine the availability of engineering skills in South Africa and to improve national engineering skills planning. The survey, which was initiated by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) and supported by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the Economic Development Department (EDD), ran until 15 December 2003.

All registered and non-registered engineers, certificated engineers, engineering technicians and engineering technologists were polled, including those who studied engineering in South Africa but have left the industry or emigrated.

Of particular interest were the education pathways of technicians and technologist through the artisan, technical college, technikon or university of technology routes.

Over 6000 responses were recorded in the first month and emerging trends indicate that:

  • The profile of the profession has transformed significantly from the traditional white male profile of the past in terms of race, but limited progress has been made in terms of gender.
  • Some 10% of projects carried out by local engineering practitioners are international projects, largely based in Africa.
  • Less than 7% of engineering practitioners working in South Africa are foreigners.
  • Most retired practitioners are willing to continue working as consultants.
  • 40% of engineering practitioners have post-graduate qualifications, mostly in technical specialisation areas.
  • 74% of respondents registered with ECSA value the professional designation and the recognition of expertise it provides.
  • One of the main reasons why practitioners do not register with ECSA is because their work environment does not require registration.
  • Some 4% of respondents also hold Government Certificates of Competence.
  • Comments on the registration system indicate that it takes too long and that communication with candidates must be improved.
  • 66% of practitioners belong to recognised voluntary engineering associations.
  • Those who have left the profession mostly work in consulting and professional services.

Data obtained through this survey will help create an updated picture of SA’s available engineering skills and guide future action to strengthen the engineering skills pipeline. It will also assist ECSA to address needs voiced by practitioners. ECSA is expected to publish a detailed report on the in 2014.

Contact Mariana Jacobs, ICMEESA, Tel 011 615-4304,

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