Protecting lives and livelihoods: CESA unpacks skills development and sustainability in the construction industry

Press Release

18 November 2021. Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) hosted the fourth instalment of its ‘Protecting Lives and Livelihoods’ webinar yesterday, which aims to bring the consulting engineering profession together regularly, to discuss trends and challenges in the industry. By encouraging knowledge sharing and networking, CESA is fostering a more sustainable and professional construction industry.

Building a sustainable industry was the topic of yesterday’s event – with discussions focussing on skills development, business operations, and current challenges in the industry. It was agreed that ultimately, having an appropriately skilled construction and consulting engineering industry will protect the lives of infrastructure end-users, and the livelihoods of those working across the industry value chain. However, panellists also agreed that a lack of capacity and technical competence in local and national government departments is inhibiting the industry, failing to create an environment which is conducive to sustainable growth for businesses – and the economy as a whole. Attendees agreed that collaboration between public and private entities is vital, which would help guide the industry forward in a professional, sustainable and accountable manner.

Discussing sustainability from a multi-national perspective, Vishal Haripersad – CESA Board Member & Knight Piésold Africa Regional Manager – was first on the agenda. “Over the past 100 years, Knight Piésold has expanded from South Africa, across our borders and oceans. Today we have offices all over the world, and we have learnt that the best way to foster sustainability is to encourage an organisational culture which embraces diversity and the uniqueness of our differences – and the perspectives this brings to the table. I believe this creates room for innovation and talent development,” said Haripersad.

Tumelo Thothela, Director: ROMH Consulting, followed with a discussion of lessons learnt while growing the company from just two people in 2017, to over 30 staff today. “As a business, I believe your success is largely dependent on external factors and we operate in a very tough business environment. However, I also believe your people are at the core of your success. A well-skilled team is key to offering quality services, and building strong customer relationships. These things will strengthen your business in this tough landscape.”

Presenting next, Lebogang Zulu – Group CEO: AV South Africa Group of Companies – turned the discussion on its head when she said: “We cannot talk about fostering a sustainable industry when there is nothing to sustain. For most of us, accessing markets is a mammoth task. SMMEs in this space are facing huge challenges and the growth of the construction sector is not being bolstered by the public sector as it should. What we need to be talking about instead is: How do we reposition our efforts and build an industry which we can grow ourselves? We need to get back to the basics of engineering. We are innovators, inventors and problem solvers, and we must leverage this.”

Following this, Tshepo Ramodibe, Head of Corporate Affairs for IDC, presented on job creation and fostering inclusive economic development. He explained that there are funding focused on job creation available through the IDC, and they favour entities which can show that they are sustainable and have strong growth potential.

Finally, Sechaba Kou – Managing Director: Isao Consulting and graduate of CESA’s Business of Consulting Engineering (BCE) management development programme – presented on the importance of business skills for the engineering sector. “In addition to technical skills, it is vital that we foster skills in marketing, operations, legal and compliance, financial management. These skills will result in more sustainable businesses in the industry.”

The informative webinar concluded with an interactive question and answer session where insights were shared on where to start when embarking on your own sustainability journey. Personal upskilling was agreed as the first step towards building sustainability in one’s career, business, and ultimately the industry.

CESA Contact details:

Bonolo Nkgodi

Marketing and Communications Manager

Tel: 011 463 2022                                                          

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