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That was the year that was

Posted By Chris Reay, Monday, 05 December 2016

As we come to the end of another year, we must reflect on its having been a bad year in many respects.

The engineering profession has seen unparalleled demise of jobs across the board. Mass retrenchments under section 189 rules have effected most of the large employers. The radical decline in new projects is evident. It has demonstrated the impact that our mining industry’s demise has had on the whole downstream industry.

We are stuck in a hiatus of no growth, unclear policies and government more concerned with political agendas than real demonstrable action to get the economy moving. The protests affecting higher education are a major worry as the effects on education and graduation of students is having a significant impact on professions. We now wait to see what the outcome of the review by the ratings agencies will be.

Employment has taken a knock and disposable income as well. The emergence of entrepreneurial activities is being suppressed by lack of funding for SMEs at a time when we need this to drive new business.

Raw materials

It does however appear that commodities are showing promise again which we hope will ramp up the projects in mining and processing. Can manufacturing get a leg up from this as it limps along at ever decreasing outputs?

I do believe that a Trump government will see some positive effects on the demand for materials for the projected infrastructure programme in the USA which should have a role for our raw materials. This is what we should have been doing with the NDP which has been stillborn since 2012 and only now getting some attention to address our infrastructure needs.

It shows how rapidly the economic recession has transformed the country. I reflect back on as recently as 2014 when the profession was actively deliberating and planning the solutions for the scarce skills agenda. That has terminated as we now contemplate how to get our existing skills employed.


The registration of Engineers, Technologist and Technicians has overcome the backlog and extended waiting times at ECSA. We now need to concentrate on developing our Mentor force using the material in the PDP. This will form a major part of SAIMechE training in 2017.

Funding for the PDP programme is now available from the SETAS. There are plans to develop an online webinar based support programme on the PDP which should, in particular, facilitate the requirements of trainees who are located remotely.

This being the last edition for 2016, may I take the opportunity of wishing all members a restful December and a prosperous new year.

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