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According to the latest Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) Bi-annual Economic and Capacity Survey (BECS), consulting engineers saw higher earnings, an improvement in industry confidence, and progress in transformation during the survey period of July to December 2016. However, employment in the industry declined during the same period.

Consulting engineers earning moreThe report states that employment in the consulting engineering industry declined by 4% year-on-year in the second half of last year, but that the number of firms looking for engineers increased to 44.9% from 32%. There were an estimated 23 349 jobs in the sector during the survey period.

Fee earnings in the last six months of 2016 rose marginally by 1% compared to the first six months of 2016, the BECS found. The increase was lower than the expected 6% increase reported in the previous survey, and respondents indicate that earnings are expected to fall in the first six months of this year.

Payment remains a serious issue in the industry, with CESA estimating that approximately R6 billion in earnings is outstanding after the common 90-day payment period. The percentage of fees outstanding for longer than 90 days as a percentage of total estimated income deteriorated to an average of 25% in the first six months of 2016, the highest recorded level since 1999.

“Considering trends in industry indicators, as reported by our member firms in our latest BECS survey, there are indications that earnings have reached an upper turning point with a softer growth outlook in the medium term for the industry. Business confidence levels first need to be restored to encourage higher levels of investment and kick start the beleaguered South African economy,” says Chris Campbell, CEO of CESA.

“On a positive note, with the transformation of the industry high on CESA’s agenda, we are pleased that the appointment of black executive staff has steadily increased, showing real significant progress in terms of industry transformation.”

The appointment of black executive staff (including black, Asian and coloured staff), measured by the contribution of black executive directors, non-executive directors, members and partners as a percentage of total executive staff, increased to 45.7% from 40.8% and 39.5% in the previous two surveys. The appointment of black executive staff has steadily increased from 28.1% in the June 2012 survey.

Image credit: Copyright: luckybusiness / 123RF Stock Photo

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