Education system too weak to supply engineers: study

27 Mar 2014 13:10pm
WINDHOEK, 27 MAR (NAMPA) – The supply of engineering professionals from the Namibian education system is too weak, a new study suggests.
The study ‘The role of the engineering profession in Namibia’ was issued by the Engineering Professions Association (EPA) of Namibia together with the GIZ (German International Development Cooperation), the Engineering Council of Namibia (ECN), University of Namibia (Unam), Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN), and the Association of Consulting Engineers (ASCEN).
It was launched here on Thursday.
“There are simply not enough Grade 12 learners who qualify for entry into engineering studies. The biggest challenge that the students face when they first enrol is the quality of their mathematics and science skills. They are simply not up to standard, and it is difficult for students to catch up the skills gap,” the study said.
According to the study, young people are not progressing to become well-trained registered professionals as fast as they did in the past, as a result of the absence of formal training activities.
The study indicated that there are simply not enough skilled Namibians to teach at the engineering campuses at Unam and PoN.
Thus, a great deal of effort is required to develop sound training regimes which will stimulate young graduates and grow the capacity required.
According to the study, one of the factors contributing to a shortage in engineering graduations is the fact that tertiary institutions are struggling to retain quality teaching and research staff in disciplines which compete with demand from the private sector.
Another concern raised in the study is that the professional engineer at the age of 50 might be close to retirement and will not be able to mentor the young generation, while the professional engineer at age 35 to 50 is at the peak of his/her professional career and might be so tied up in production work, that he/she is not able to assist with mentoring the young generation.
Namibia is not an industrialised economy. To create new industries, dedicated engineer funding from government or the private sector and enabling legislation from Government are required, according to the study.
“Namibia needs to create new industries to absorb the production of new engineers. An industrialised Namibia will value its engineers more sine they will be the drivers of industry and emerging new technologies in manufacturing, infrastructure development, alternative and renewable energy, power generation, and value addition of natural resources,” it added.
Namibia currently has 1 271 registered engineering professionals.