Urgent Infusion of Engineers Needed

If Namibia is to achieve Vision 2030 and the Fourth National Development Plan (NDP4) then the seven percent current annual growth in engineers entering the profession has to be increased to 11 percent.

This was revealed in the study on the role of the engineering profession in Namibia – the first in the country – as commisssioned by the Engineering Professions Association of Namibia (EPA), which report was launched last week by the Deputy Minister of Works and Transport, Kilus Nguvauva.

Currently Namibia has 1 271 engineers registered with the Engineering Professions Association Council of Namibia. Of the professional engineers, 267, roughly 40 percent, are already older than 50 years. The current supply of engineering professionals is not enough to implement NDP4 action plans for infrastructure design, planning, maintenance and supervision.

The report warned: “If the concerns and recommendations raised in the report are not taken seriously and if no interventions by the right authorities are not made, and if the status quo is allowed to continue into the future, then the delivery of infrastructure will continue to be delayed. And poverty will remain endemic in Namibia [while] inadequate water and sanitation infrastructure services will remain a major problem. Increases in the transportation gridlock and congestion in ports will hamper trade … [and] NDP4, and Namibia becoming a logistic hub will not be fulfilled.”

The report says the next 10 years will be critical to train and mentor the next generation of engineers before the current 50-age group of engineers retire.

Continual loss of skilled capacity will require Namibia to become a net importer of engineering skills to the detriment of investor confidence, the economy and infrastructure since local engineering knowledge and understanding is imperative.

“We don’t have engineer intakes and graduates at the University of Namibia (Unam) and at the Polytechnic of Namibia. We are not producing enough engineers to cope with the workload. We have projects such as the Mass Housing Programme, we need roads, who is going to do the work?,” Sophia Tekie, past president of EPA, who was one of the originators of the study project told New Era on Thursday

Further, the report contends that given that almost N$10 billion is to be spent on infrastructure development in the 201314 financial year the engineering industry is entering a long-term growth phase.

“The challenge is to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to cope with the drastically increased workload, since achieving these optimistic predictions will not be possible without the input of engineering professionals in the industry,” according to the report.

The report says demand for engineers in the public sector is high, but government is currently not the ideal working environment for an engineer. “There is a lot that government must do to become a workplace of choice for engineering professionals again.”

The study found women representation in the profession is less than five percent.

“Engineering professionals’ expertise will be critical to satisfy the demands for the creation of infrastructure … and high value should be placed on their knowledge and expertise,” the report notes. The report thus suggests innovative solutions to attract and retain engineering professionals.

Moreover, it also encourages the Ministry of Education to recruit and retain adequately qualified and experienced mathematics and science teachers for both primary and secondary school education.

The participants during the launch of the report recommended that the forum be an annual opportunity for the various sectors of the engineering fraternity to deliberate on the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Deputy works minister Nguvauva during the launch of the report welcomed the initiative and the outcome of the study, saying “engineers need to come and talk to government and government needs to listen to professional aice.”

Source : New Era