In response to the Deputy President’s call to harness retired professionals for skills transfer and service delivery, the ENERGYS programme initiated earlier this year reports exceptional results at the end of its first six months.
The ENERGYS (Engineers Now to Ensure Roll-out by Growing Young Skills) programme was devised to start addressing the needs identified in the SAICE publication ‘Numbers & Needs’.
Some of these findings were:
- A shortage of qualified civil engineering professionals in municipalities
- Many student technicians are unable to obtain experiential training or employment after graduating because
- There is insufficient capacity to manage and train young professionals
The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (SAICE) and the South African Black & Allied Careers Organization (SABTACO) teamed up to manage the programme and to deploy senior engineers paired with students and graduates in local authorities to unblock the bottlenecks, offering comprehensive training to both students and graduates. ENERGYS consists of 170 seniors, students and graduates across cultural, political and demographic divides. But divided they are not. United they are making a huge difference in the more than fifty municipalities where they have been placed!
Funding for the project is a joint venture as the National Department of Local Government (dplg), the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF), Gauteng (GDLG) and North West (NWDLG) departments of Local Government are all on board.
The criteria to qualify for ENERGYS assistance are:
- A cross-boundary municipality
- A low capacity municipality
- A ‘Project Consolidate’
- A nodal municipality
Also contributing is the Local government Sector Education and Training Authority (LGSETA). The provision of stipends for experiential training will enable many students to eventually graduate with their National Diplomas.
In terms of service delivery, the MIG (Municipal Infrastructure Grant) funds, which are often reported as being unspent at the end of the financial year, were fully expended in many municipalities – with one team helping to complete R45-million worth of infrastructure in just five months.
Where conditions are extreme such as in rural areas, the seniors have developed recovery plans for their municipalities against which funds are being raised and materials being donated. The students and graduates have assisted with survey, assessing conditions and carrying out simple designs.
The performance of the teams is such that the project has been extended in its present form to 31 March 2007. The extended project will reach more municipalities, in the Free State, Gauteng and those identified as requiring hands-on support in programme management.