BSTEP has noted with disappointment the level of disconnection between the Government's development plan and the quest to build a competent local population of engineers. This comes after BSTEP reflected critically on the impact of global bilateral agreements between our government and other governments on the importation of engineers. The case in point is the importation and deployment of 40 engineers in the Free State from Cuba.
"South Africa's Infrastructure development programme provides an ideal opportunity to facilitate the development of vocational exposure and experience to invest in the development of excellence within Black engineers," said Kendy Madisha, BSTEP Board member.
"In an era where government is accused of vast ineptitude and black excellence has come under scrutiny, we believe government has been eager to seek redemption outside the country undermining the power of collaboration with its own people internally. There is a level of exposure to South Africa's Industrial challenges that local engineers bring to the table and this familiarity with local condition makes them ideal to driving the country forward," he added.
BSTEP also notes that the learning curve between empowering an emerging black engineering class would be the same with the deployment of Spanish speaking Cuban professionals to the South Africa conditions. The South African unique engineering professionals standards set by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), which is a statutory body, require concerted effort to be invested in the foreign engineers. Thus the investment in teaching Cuban engineers language proficiency and standards is similar to the investment Black professional engineers require to be actively invested in the development of the country. This is an ideal opportunity to build a critical volume of black engineers to be registered with ECSA, and ensure that black South Africans achieve the status of acceptable 'seasoned mentoring' as stipulated in the objectives.
"We at BSTEP also feel the notion of 'lack of engineers' in the country should be investigated, since there are a number of cases of unemployed and underemployed black engineers. At BSTEP we know from experience, that the placement of graduates after graduation into Industry is hard to come by and many of them remain unemployed for years. On that scale alone we can disprove the notion that we lack engineers in South Africa, especially at a technical implementation level and entrance level. Thus failure to work with black engineers means failure to invest in the future of the sector."
There is a growing learning and developing culture among black people enshrined in ethos of hard work and excellence. We are twenty years into a democracy that was preceded by calls from Nelson Mandela for black people to go back to School. Black people have heeded the call and have emerged with professional degrees and within the consulting engineering space, have become economic role players that are job creators.Thus for such a crucial economic role player to remain out of the engagement loop is both unfortunate and disheartening.
"We believe black professionals cannot remain disinterested in the development of a nation they call their own and implore government to widen engagement on such issues to include them." Madisha said.
BSTEP remains optimistic that in moving forward the government will widen its engagement scope and that the contribution of black engineers will be placed in the proper context. BSTEP together with government shares the dream of delivering services to masses of the country. They view themselves as the custodians of black science, engineering and technology development and the protectors a wonderful legacy of black excellence within the sector.
The Black Science, Technology and Engineering Professionals (BSTEP), is a non-profit organization that was established in 2005. It is a non-profit Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) advocacy organization that seeks to promote the attainment of a critical mass of SET skills locally, regionally and internationally.
Apart from the goal of achieving competitive SET skills among the black community; we also aim to develop the Black SET Professionals to become responsible leaders within their respective areas of SET and in the general public domain.
Since 2011 BSTEP has successfully placed over 300 students from universities of technologies at different small and medium enterprises across South Africa as part of the requirement for their experiential training. Through this initiative companies host and mentor students who have 2 years theoretical training and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) provides a stipend for the students over the 12-month duration of their training at the company.
To date students from University of Johannesburg (UJ), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), Central University of Technology (CUT), Vaal University of Technology (VUT), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), and Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) have participated in the programme. Companies such as SC Johnson, Scaw Metal, Schenellecke-SA, Sappi, Suntank, CSIR and Mintek have hosted and trained the students.
Majority of the students in the programme were training towards Industrial, Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical, Metallurgical, Computer, Analytical and Civil Engineering.
Issued by Tshetlhe Litheko & Kendy Madisha on behalf of BSTEP
Phone 074 406 0394/ 0718695749
Address: Building 4e , CSIR, Scientia, Meiring Naude Road, Pretoria