Engineers cry foul over ‘stringent’ requirements

24 November 2017 Author   Kaula Nhongo
Engineering graduates under the banner of the Namibia Society of Engineers (NASE) have described the “stringent” requirements put on the vacancies advertised last month by the Ministry of Works and Transport (MWT), as unreasonable.
NASE Chairperson, Charles Mukwaso, is accusing the Government of trying to score points off them by putting strict requirements that will disadvantage recent graduates, who do not have the required engineering experience yet.
The ministry is asking for at least six years experience on the advertised entry-level positions for engineers, architects and quantity surveyors.
Mukwaso argued in an interview that the requirements cannot be for an entry level position which is usually meant for people who are coming from school with limited experience.
He said by obliging applicants to have such requirements; the ministry was not considering the realities of the country. 
“We are qualified, but we are very unfortunate that we live in a country that does not consider Namibians first and rather looks to foreigners first.  The system is not well designed to absorb the engineers when they finish studying and allow us a chance to obtain the requisite apprenticeship hours to become registered as professional engineers,” Mukwaso said. 
He said Government was paying millions in tuition fees for engineering students, yet it was not providing an environment for those students to practice once they complete their studies and enter the job market.
Mukwaso also complained that the current Engineering Profession Act 18 of 1986 was not designed to favour a future Namibia. 
He said the Act entrenches those who were previously advantaged, while placing a ceiling above the heads of new entrants into the field, ensuring that they do not qualify, adding that this was a typical tactic used before independence to keep certain professions or lucrative contracts or senior positions, for whites only. 
“The Act is a colonial bind which favours some people.  As it stands, it is very difficult for any new graduates to get registered,” he said.
The complaints from NASE come a week after it emerged that president of the Engineering Council of Namibia, Markus von Jeney, is not a qualified professional engineer.
The engineering community last week expressed serious concerns over Jeney’s qualifications as a practising engineer and president of the council after it emerged that he only attended one year of University.
Government is currently revising the Act to remove some of the clauses that are hampering engineers from being registered.
In Mukwaso’s view, the Public Service Commission (PSC), which stipulates the requirements on all Government positions, is biased.
“We want to establish how the Public Service Commission is established. We want a situation where the committee is representative of all professions,” he said.
Critics view the young engineers’ many excuses as a way of getting sympathy from the Government after having previously claimed to be fully qualified for positions when they protested at the Ministry of Works and Transport earlier this year.
Works Permanent Secretary, Willem Goeieman, said the ministry was not responsible for the requirements for the jobs they are offering.
He reiterated that the ministry will only be recruiting qualified people with the stipulated requirements and qualifications.
“When they protested, they told the whole world they have all the requirements and were qualified.  I was portrayed as the devil, who is not patriotic. I knew they did not have the requirements,” Goeieman said.
The Engineering Professionals Association members protested in August against the statement by the works PS that no Namibians had qualifications to take up any of the engineering jobs currently held by foreign nationals. 
The protesters rejected this generalisation by Goeieman and they submitted over 300 CVs, demanding that employment consideration for any available posts first be offered to Namibians who may be qualified.

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