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The need for economic leadership

Posted By Chris Reay, Monday, 15 December 2014

If ever Nero fiddled while Rome burned it must be the current performance of the ANC “leadership”. I hesitate to even use the word in this context as it is virtually non-existent in the role the President is playing and equally insignificant in the performance of the yes-men who answer to him. While the economy slides into an aimless mix of unemployment, retrenchments, energy constraints, bail outs for state enterprises, reducing growth rates and evident general frustration and anger across the population spectrum, Nero ‘s attention is directed elsewhere, primarily in the direction of self-interest and to be quite frank, embarrassing incompetence. Let’s hope this era of the revolution-makers ages out as soon as possible so that a new era of hopefully more concerned leaders will emerge.

On-going reports over the years have signaled the serious deterioration of the infrastructure. Energy is limited, water supplies are threatened with shortages and toxicity. Plants break down and are not 
repaired. Roads deteriorate to the point where maintenance is no longer viable. Health care and education gets worse. It’s a classic case of thermodynamic entropy – lack of work to overcome the tendency to move into a natural state of chaos, all at the same temperature and in social and economic reality, the lowest common denominator.

Can we derive a message from this? A characteristic of the obvious solution is that if the system is not intentionally reversed by leading a focused endeavor to recreate those aspects we call the built environment, it will not reverse and not improve. 

It is critical time for the Engineer to enter the fray, participate in the call for action, play a leadership role, and get to work developing the skills base, training the new graduates, using the retired (and mostly white) engineering  capacity to transfer their experiential skills to the younger generation before it is too late and they are all gone.

There is no room nor role for BEE and its misplaced execution in this activity. To hell with politics, this is serious stuff. It’s all hands on deck and the sooner the better for time waits for no one and we do not have too much left to avoid passing the point of no return.

We now have about 500 new Mechanical Engineer graduates emerging from university each year and mostly finding employment in industry, aside from those that emigrate or go into say financial services and other non-engineering activities. We have the latest and well developed outcomes based professional compliance structure, a willing group of Voluntary Associations hosting the training model, many willing retired or semi-retired Engineers willing to become Mentors, commitments from the SETAs to fund the candidate training costs (including the payment of Mentors), and we hope a willing number of employers in industry wanting to play a role in developing new skills. This will also enable those existing employed graduates to undertake their candidate phase training.

What are we waiting for? Who will lead the movement? Pay me and I will manage it with a vengeance.

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