Despite a slowdown in Government investment the results of Consulting Engineers South Africa’s (CESA) Bi-annual Economic and Capacity Survey show confidence levels for 2018 are still very positive.

The survey for the period June to December 2017 indicates that expectations relating to industry confidence levels for the first six months of 2018 are still very positive increasing in the last six months of this year.

“In the December 2015 survey, industry confidence levels fell to its lowest level in 16 years. Since then there has been good improvement with the net satisfaction rate improving to 96.3% in the first six months of 2017 and falling significantly to 54.4% in the December 2017 survey but are positive for 2018 rising to 92.6% for the last six months of the year,” explains CESA CEO Chris Campbell.

“This is despite employment in the industry decreasing by an average of 12% in the last six months of 2017, one of the biggest declines since the inception of the survey,” he notes.

Industry challenges

Looking at industry challenges Campbell notes that regulation issues, procurement issues an outstanding payments remain some of the biggest challenges faced by the industry.

Campbell further highlights service delivery at municipal level as another critical issue for the industry.

“The consulting engineering industry is threatened by incapacitated local and provincial governments. As major clients to the industry, it is important that these institutions become more effective, more proactive in identifying needs and priorities and more efficient in project implementation and – management,” he says.

Transformation and human resources

Turning to transformation Campbell notes that the appointment of Black executive staff measured by the contribution of Black executive directors, non-executive directors, members and partners as a percentage of total executive staff, increased slightly to 41.5% from 37.4% and 45.7% in the previous two surveys.

The appointment of women at an executive level deteriorated to 11.9% from 12.8% while overall employment for engineers decreased by an average of 12% in the last six months of 2017 to an estimated 21 369 employees in the industry. “This is one of the biggest declines since the inception of the survey,” Campbell highlights.

“The number of firms looking for engineers decreased to 51.7% from 67.3% in the previous survey, with a notable decrease in demand for technicians to 1.9%, from 73.4% in the previous survey. Demand for other technical staff also decreased markedly to 3.7 percent from 75.1, while demand for technologists decreased to 45.3%, from 71.8 %,” concludes Campbell.