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A lack of investment in the development of skills for consulting engineers has resulted in a skewed and unbalanced skills portfolio in the industry. On the one hand, there are many older engineers close to retirement, and on the other, many young recently graduated engineers. Middle management is in a minority as a result.

According to Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA), the immediate challenge to the industry is the constraint faced by under-resourced middle management engineers in providing adequate experiential training of upcoming young engineers. As a result, the organisation has created the CESA Business of Consulting Engineering (BCE) programme.

CESA grows consulting engineering skills

BCE Graduates: Back: Gerhard Vermaak (CKR Consulting Engineers), Nkululeko Mzulwini (Hatch Goba), Mogamad Wasief Casper (Qunu Consulting), Luxolo Sindane (WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff), Trymore Dube (Lidwala). Front: Itai Gonese (IGS Engineers), Andre Marais (GMH Tswelelo), Chris Campbell (CESA CEO), Sechaba Kou (UWP Consulting), Graeme Baker (Henwood & Nxumalo Consulting Engineers).

The BCE is an annual development programme that provides a solution to this gap in human resource development. Presented by CESA’s School of Consulting Engineering, the BCE equips engineering staff in the consulting environment with the non-technical skills which form an integral part of the work of a consulting engineer, but which are not part of a normal tertiary engineering education programme.

“The BCE is an essential element of developing not only engineers but for the survival and success of the industry at large. The business of engineering is more than the business of completion of projects. To survive, it must be about the business of making meaningful decisions that can be beneficial to all parties: the client, the engineers and the community,” says Makotsene Makgalemele, 2014 CESA Young Engineer of the year. Makgalemele has successfully completed the BCE programme.

The BCE Programme is aimed at engineers and technologists with some experience in a consulting engineering environment. It is also suitable for other technical staff and senior engineering personnel employed in a consulting engineering firm. It is an ideal platform for engineers and technologists who have the potential to rise rapidly towards senior levels of management and responsibility in their firms and bring with them the skills and capability required at such levels. The students learn about the consulting engineering environment, business management, project finance, legal and contractual matters, all while getting exposure to aspects of inter-personal skills development which enhance their ability to work in teams and become future leaders in the industry.

The course runs from February to December each year and a maximum of 25 students are accommodated. Students attend three one-week contact sessions in Johannesburg and have to prepare and submit written assignments throughout the programme. In addition, there is a written exam at the end of the year, all of which are factored into assessing the success or otherwise of prospective students. Only successful students are awarded a certificate upon completion of the Programme.

Engineers interested in attending the 2018 course can find more details at http://www.cesa.co.za/node/142

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