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Immigration NewsHundreds of engineers quit SA
Jan 24 2008 11:02 AM
By: James-Brent Styan

Johannesburg - Up to 300 qualified engineers leave South Africa every year, and according to Johan Pienaar of the Engineering Council of SA (Ecsa) the number could even be higher.

He said the 300 estimate is based on the engineers who cancel their registration with Ecsa before they emigrate.

Pienaar said that in November 2005, about 14 900 engineers were registered with Ecsa. In November last year, the number stood at 14 811 - this despite 1 290 engineers qualifying every year at South African universities.

Dawid Botha, the executive director of the SA Institute of Civil Engineers (Saice), said the shortage of engineers and technicians is a national problem heading for disaster.

Allyson Lawless, a former president of Saice, said there are currently less than three civil engineers for every 100 000 people in South Africa.

A survey done by Lawless shows that 79 of the country's 231 local municipalities do not have civil engineers, technologists or technicians. Botha confirmed this and said there are more than 1 000 vacancies for these skills at municipalities countrywide.

Eskom also has a significant shortage of skills. In 2005, Eskom already needed 400 engineers.

According to Dr Manie van Dyk, DA-MP, Eskom said last year it expected a shortage of 6 200 technicians in the next five years.

Van Dyk said the country is already feeling the brunt of the shortage.

Michael Hoskins, a manager at Engineering Placements, a professional recruitment agency in Johannesburg, said the placement of engineers is hampered by the government's policy of affirmative action.

"Vacancies at private companies sometimes stay open for long rather than them placing an unsuitable candidate. This is much more apparent at a parastatal like Eskom."

For example, Hoskins said, he currently has a post for a black female engineer with a package of "more than R100 000 a month". Engineers who leave the country sometimes go work overseas for less than half of that, he said.

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