Think Pink Hats, a workshop to encourage girls to consider engineering as a career choice

Engineering helps economies to grow and failure to invest in growing South Africa’s engineering capacity will hamper development. This according to Sipho Madonsela Chief Executive Officer at the Engineering Council of South Africa. (ECSA). He says the council is working on a policy framework aimed at establishing ‘engineering academies’ to boost the numbers of local engineers. Madonsela was speaking at the third UNESCO Africa Engineering Week, taking place in Port Elizabeth. Scheduled to take place at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), the two-day event was moved to the Pastor’s House Church.

Hosted by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), together with the ECSA and the NMMU, the event will create a platform to discuss opportunities, challenges and solutions that are experienced in engineering in Africa.

Engineering Week aims to educate the youth and the general public about engineering through outreach activities such as educational workshops, public awareness events and mentoring activities that show how engineers are key players in finding solutions to significant global challenges, such as climate change mitigation and adaptation.

The ECSA CEO said that South Africa will not be able to deliver on huge infrastructure projects if the numbers of engineers are not increased. He added that engineering impacts global economies, and to become globally competitive, the country must stay abreast of global technological innovations.

Currently South Africa only has between 16-17 000 registered engineers, needing 108 000, to reach the global average. Madonsela says with one engineer serving 3000 people, the situation is dire and must be addressed. The situation is exacerbated by local engineers being poached by international companies, as the current shortage of engineers has become a global phenomenon.

Engineering across the world has become less attractive to young people, causing concern among industry stakeholders. In Africa the problem is particularly chronic, as it hampers infrastructure development.

Madonsela believes the private and public sectors must unite as this challenge affects all. He says with the establishment of academies, a pipeline of engineers can be grown, and an environment can be created allowing people to complete their studies.

The framework that ECSA is developing will among others:

  • define the academy
  • determine content of training
  • infrastructure for training
  • do validation and licensing

The annual initiative also has a particular focus to expose female learners to engineering as very few women choose careers in this field. Engineering remains a career dominated by men and initiatives such as WomEng-a non-profit organization aimed at attracting, developing and nurturing the next generation of women engineering leaders.

Today’s event, saw female learners participate in the, “Think pink hard-hat” workshop which aims to thwart the myth that engineering is the domain of men.

The event continues tomorrow.

The details for the event are as follows:

Date:         Wednesday, 28-29 September 2016

Time:        08:30 for 09:00

Venue:      The Fathers House, Patterson Street PE


Sipho Madonsela: CEO of Engineering Council of SA, addressing first day of the Africa Engineering Week.

Issued by the Department of Science and Technology

For more information, contact Zama Mthethwa at 082 808 3956