Lack of water engineering expertise is addressed by the DWS

Lack of water engineering expertise is addressed by the DWS’ Learning
A group of the recently qualified water engineers has joined The Department of Water and
Sanitation (DWS) Learning Academy (LA) because they felt it is their duty as people armed
with skills to lead from the front.
The function of DWS is of great strategic importance to the South African society. The level of
productivity within DWS and the water sector as a whole has a direct effect on the South
African economy.
Raynhard De Lange, who is among a group of newly-qualified young learners to train and
work as a water engineer, says South Africa does not necessarily experience water shortages
but that the main concern is a lack of skilled people to do work towards providing citizens with
good quality drinking water.
“My take is that South Africa has lots and lots of bulk water resources and that the only thing
lacking is appropriate skills. Capable people lack interest needed to work in the water sector,”
De Lange noted, adding that the problem has now thrown a challenge to “us young and
recently qualified engineers to lead from the front. I and my fellow colleagues around here
today are ready to take the bull by the horn”.
Another learner, Bulelwa Batayi, who described herself as a water analyst, agreed with De
Lange. She said it was time for people, in fact all South Africans, to take the provision of
drinking water quality as a priority. “Water is life and high quality treatment of the resource
should be prioritized”, Batayi noted.
These engineers are part of a group of ambitious, determined and young qualified engineers
who want to work for the water sector and thus be part of efforts to enhance the quality of the
resource delivered to citizens. They noted these sentiments at the DWS’s Roodeplaat
Training Centre, Pretoria East, where they are currently attending induction lectures.
One of the LA’s main areas of operation which experiences a dire shortage of skills and
expertise is the engineering function. However, the academy has made huge strides in
attracting young engineers to the department. Its purpose can be summarized as follows:
investigate technical and scarce skills development needs within the department; address
technical and scarce skills gaps in the overall water supply value chain; address scarce skills
gaps in specific technical areas of the department, and build capacity for medium and longterm needs of the department.
To boost the programme, 20 recently qualified engineers joined the Learning Academy on 19
January 2015. They are currently completing the Department of Public Service and
Administration’s (DPSA’s) compulsory induction programme, and will report for duty at their
various base stations with effect from 2 February 2015. The group is expected to number 75
by end of February 2015 when a number of scientists and technicians join the fray.
To date, 57 young Engineers have been offered an opportunity to participate in the
Professional Development programme. Three of these engineers have managed to register
as Professional Engineers, while others are on various levels of meeting the required eleven
outcomes of the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).
The Learning Academy is an internal structure which was initiated in 2007 as a response to a
shortage of specific skills needed to boost the work of the department (and that of the water
sector in general) through its technical and scarce skills development programme. This
technical structure represents an investment for sustaining the quality of DWS’s human
resources, raising the level of technical and scarce skills and thereby ensuring that, in the
long term, the department remains competitive in terms of delivering on its mandate.
The Learning Academy is designed to meet specific organisational requirements and lead a
sustained campaign to secure a steady supply of high-level skills in water-related science,
engineering, and various technical disciplines. It responds to the imperatives mentioned, with
a dual focus of providing aspiring engineers, scientists, technologists and technicians while
offering these an opportunity to be exposed to real-time professional and valuable work
The Learning Academy supports the academic development component of participants
through bursaries and experiential training. The professional development component forms
part of DWS’ social responsibility in that it incubates young and inexperienced graduates –
offering them an opportunity to receive on the job training and exposure related to their areas
of study, while introducing them to DWS’ core business.
For more information please contact Ms Verena Meyer on telephone number 012 336 7448.
Ike Motsapi
Issued by the Department of Water & Sanitation
For more information contact: DWS Media Liaison Director Sputnik Ratau on 082 874
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