There is an urgent need for maintenance skills to be transferred, developed and retained in South Africa.  According to Tracey-Lee Zurcher, project director of Reliability and Maintenance Week, lack of skills is the foremost concern in the engineering sector in South Africa. “Besides this posing the problem of there not being enough qualified people to execute the highly technical tasks that need to be performed in order for the country to reach a position of consistency and reliable service delivery”, says Tracey-Lee, “there is also a vast gap in experience between young engineers and those at the average age of an engineer in South Africa:  54. Intervention is certainly necessary for these skills to be transferred, developed and retained.”

According to the Reliability Week director, philosophies in South Africa are changing and attitudes towards improved reliability are shifting.  She continues:  “Southern Africa is beginning to forge ahead on its way to meeting international benchmarks for plant and distribution system availability”.

Eskom:  planning for maintenance
Tracey-Lee Zurcher says major service providers such as Eskom see the importance of planning for crucial maintenance to ensure reliability and the skills to perform these services.  With Eskom confirmed as a host utility, Reliability and Maintenance Week conference and exhibition, taking place from 22-24 November 2010, will provide the platform for service providers and the operational contingent from power utilities, municipalities, mines and the petrochemical sector to tackle and present solutions to South Africa’s challenges in preserving, upgrading and ensuring continuous reliability of physical assets and human resources. 

A special Seminar at Reliability Week, dedicated to addressing the skills shortage in engineering in South Africa, will take place on 22 November.

Reliable skills:  do we have enough talent?
Carol Hondonga, Recruitment and Talent manager, Africa at Rio Tinto is one of the specialists who will address the question of skills recruitment and retention.  She asks:  “are the millions invested in bursary sponsorships and learnerships creating the required talent pipeline?  South African corporates would do well to take a step back and analyse their strategy to build a talent pipeline.”  She continues:  “are sponsorhips and learnerships meeting expectations in terms of quality and size of talent pool to meet business requirements? Are there alternate strategies that can be deployed that are more creative and require less investment?”. 

According to Carol Hongonga the question is whether corporates should work collaboratively or continue to compete in a limited talent market.  “Individual strategies in a scarce skills market are not sustainable”, she says, ”closer engagement is required at a macro level with education authorities to implement strategies at national level that will churn out adequate young talent  in a sustainable manner.”

Speakers and topics at the Skills Seminar include:onference Seminar: Addressing the skills shorge in engineering in South Africa
Chairman: Lou-Anne Lubbe, Talent and Organisational Performance Lead, Accenture

  • The new workforce – what does it look like and what are they looking for?
    Samuel Isaacs, CEO, South African Qualifications Authority
  • Where and how do you find the young talent of today?
    Carol Hondonga, Recruitment and Talent Manager, Africa, Rio Tinto
  • Ensuring by skilling up, you are not losing out – keep your staff through incentive programmes.
    David Sand, CEO, UWIN IWINeshment Break
  • MerSETA’s perspective on the future of engineering skills development in Southern Africa
    Dr Raymond Patel, CEO, merSETA
  • How is equipment reliability impacted by engineering and artisan skills?
    Mike Macrae, Manager: Oil, Gas & Chemical Manufacturing, Artisan Skills Training Project, Sasol Synfuels*
  • The challenge of recruitment: what measures to take to make headhunting easier
    Niteske Marshall, Managing Director, Network Recruitment
  • A skills audit discussion: The reality?
  • This panel of engineering association representatives will address the day-to-day reality of the skills shortage in the large industrial plant/ operational marketplace.
    • Rod Harker, South African Institute of Electrical Engineers Council
    • Viv Crone, South African Institute of Electrical Engineers Council
    • Silas Zimu, President-elect AMEU

Reliability Week 2010:  www.reliabilityweek.co.za
22-24 November 2010, Emperors Palace, Johannesburg, South Africa

For interviews please contact:
Communications Manager:  Annemarie Roodbol     
Email:  annemarie.roodbol@clarionevents.com
Phone:  +27 21 700 3500 EXT: 3558
Mobile:  +27 82 562 7844 (International)
Fax: +27 21 700 3501 (International)