Haw & Inglis Foreman Development Programme Graduation
Speech by Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works
Good day, Goeie dag, Molweni. Thank you for your invitation to have me address you today at this very important event. I am very honoured.
As we congratulate today’s 10 graduates who have successfully completed this two-year Foreman Development Programme, let us not lose sight of the importance of programmes like this in addressing South Africa’s skills shortages, that are now at an unacceptably high level. This skills shortage will continue to have an adverse effect on our ability to deliver on key infrastructure critical for development, if allowed to continue unabated.
Infrastructure and construction create the foundations of our global economy and the basis for improving quality of life. They contribute significantly to the country’s economy and provide much needed employment. Government is clear in its conviction that the South African construction industry is a national asset in the strategy to achieve economic growth, create job opportunities and improve the quality of life for all South Africans. This is why investing in skills capacitation within this industry is so important if we hope to see the levels of growth necessary to reinvigorate our economy.
This year, 23 May 2014, the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, published the National Scarce Skills List: Top 100 Occupations in Demand for public comment, and then the final List of Occupations in High Demand: 2014 this past Tuesday, 4 November.
This list has civil engineers and construction project managers as amongst the scarcest skills in the country, citing a serious lack of qualified and experienced people in these categories.
Adcorp, the labour market specialist, says that the South African economy shed 36 290 jobs during January 2014, with the biggest losses occurring in permanent employment. Adcorp then noted that in the face of significant job losses in January, highly skilled professions stood out as being the only sector in which new jobs were created. However, Loane Sharp, labour market economist at Adcorp, said that these vacancies cannot be filled owing to a critical skills shortage in South Africa. This means that even when the opportunity is there for employment in these fields, we simply do not have the skills to fill these vacancies.
I am happy to learn that Haw & Inglis shares in my department’s commitment to skills capacitation and development. Through your training and development programmes, your focus has been on the accelerated development of junior management with a specific focus on mentorship. Your sponsorship of over 50 civil engineering students is also commendable, with the only way to address this skills shortage crisis effectively, being through the nurturing of young talent.
My department, through the Masakh’iSizwe (Let’s Build the Nation) Centre of Excellence and Bursary Scheme, is committed to identifying and promoting young talent that will continue to build the nation. This bursary scheme, established by the Department of Transport and Public Works in 2006, has grown from strength to strength over the years. Hundreds of tertiary students have been afforded the opportunity to pursue degrees or higher diplomas in the disciplines of:
- Construction Management.
- Civil, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering.
- Quantity Surveying.
- Town and Regional Planning.
Masakh’iSizwe is now the finest built environment bursary scheme in the country. Our students outperform the university average in every way. They have fewer failures, graduate sooner and with better results than their peers. Masakh’iSizwe is much more than a bursary scheme. It is a joint venture between the department, the private sector partners like yourselves, and three universities (University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, and Cape Peninsula University of Technology) which ensures that our bursary holders are prepared in every way for the leadership, skill and responsibilities that lie ahead of them.
There were 77 graduates last year, and a total of 256 bursars awarded this year.
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The support from our partners has been instrumental to the success of the bursary scheme. They not only offer capital contributions to the bursary, but they also provide internships for our bursars to continue their training. The Bursary Collaboration Venture (BCV) partners’ contributions for the 2013/2014 financial year amounted to R2.122 million, which was matched by my department to form a total contribution of R4.016 million towards the bursary.
I can assure you that this money will continue to go a long way in producing the essential skills that the construction industry so desperately requires. Haw & Inglis’ share of this is very significant.
The job of a foreman is key to any construction project’s success. Normally the foreman is a construction worker with many years of experience in a particular trade who is charged with organising the overall construction of a particular project for a particular contractor. Typically the foreman is a person with specialist knowledge of a given trade who has moved into the position and is now focused on an overall management of his trade on the job site.
A good foreman is said by many engineers to be the keystone of their projects.
Specifically, a foreman may train employees under his or her supervision, ensure appropriate use of equipment by employees, communicate progress on the project to a supervisor and maintain the employee schedule. Foremen may also arrange for materials to be at the construction site and evaluate plans for each construction job.
I should like to congratulate our 10 graduates for their commitment to up skilling themselves, and encourage them to work even harder at being the best that they can be as they continue to contribute to building this great nation of ours. The work that you do will be the legacy that you leave for all South Africans.