There was more drama this week in the never-ending struggle by aspiring Namibian engineers who want to fill in the advertised 87 posts that will be left vacant by the departing Zimbabwean engineers,
after it emerged that president of the Engineering Council of Namibia, Markus von Jeney, is not a qualified professional engineer.
The engineering community has expressed serious concerns over the Engineering Council of Namibia (ECN) Markus von Jeney’s qualifications as a practising engineer and president of the council after it emerged that he only attended one year of University.
Several aspiring engineers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Windhoek Observer this week that they were surprised when they discovered that von Jeney had only attended one year of college, and yet he sits in judgement over the qualifications and skills of people with a higher level of education than himself.
This comes after the engineering president, in a previous interview carried by this newspaper, accused the unregistered engineers of being “opportunists who are trying to get jobs that they are not qualified for.”
“How can this man tell us that we are not qualified engineers when we went through four years of university and acquired degrees? This man just has a 50-year-old certificate, but has been enjoying the benefits that come with being registered,” the group of young engineers complained.
According to the group, the council went against regulations when it appointed Jeney as president without the requisite qualifications.
Jeney’s critics feel that at the very least, his role in passing judgement on those with qualifications higher than his is contradictory to the standards of the Namibia Qualifications Authority (NQA), which requires that those teaching/training or certifying in a particular field should have a qualification level at least one grade above those they assess. For example, a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level 4 or 5 (diploma/certificate levels) cannot certify those at level 7 or 8 (BS degree levels).
The group said they felt duty bound to expose the president’s alleged academic deficiencies to demonstrate the inequities and barriers they face as they struggle with bodies such as the ECN to get their apprenticeship hours and other requirements recognized.
A quick search on business and employment-oriented social networking service, LinkedIn, reveals that the ECN president only acquired a one year engineering certificate from the University of Pretoria after having attended school from 1962 to 1963, more than 50 years ago. There are no other listings of any educational qualifications.
The aspiring engineers accused the majority white members of the ECN of blocking them from becoming fully registered, saying that the council want to protect its lucrative monopoly over engineering jobs, by controlling who can earn a living as an engineer and who is excluded.
They said once many people, including previously disadvantaged Namibians, become registered engineers then competition for the jobs they are protecting for themselves and ‘their’ associates will be stiff.
As president of the ECN, von Jeney was appointed Chairman of the Impartiality Committee at the Namibia Standards Institution (NSI), which is tasked with safeguarding the impartiality of the certification activities as well as reviewing policies relating to impartiality of certification activities.
He is also a council member at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST).
Responding to the allegations, von Jeney admitted that he was not a professional engineer, but said he is classified as an incorporated engineer.
He claimed that he was trained in water engineering “on level seven”, but does not have a BSc degree that would allow him to be classified as a professional engineer.
He did not provide information about his alleged level seven training.
According to the registration regulations from ECN, to be registered as a professional engineer, one needs a four year BSc (Eng) or B Eng degree.
Von Jeney justified his comments about the engineers with full Bsc degrees for supposedly “trying to get jobs for which they are not qualified,” by saying that he was just following the ECN’s regulations and repeating what it says about registering engineers.
“I don’t make these decisions myself; I follow what the law states. I always try to state what is in the statutes,” he said.
Under the Engineering Profession Act 18 of 1986, section 4, No person shall be appointed - (a) as a member of the council under section 3(1)(a)(i) and (ii) or (b), or as an alternate to any such member under section 3(4), unless he is a professional engineer; (b) as a member of the council under section 3(1)(a)(iii), or as an alternate to any such member in terms of section 3(4), unless he is either a incorporated engineer or an engineering technician.