In order to help develop engineering skills in South Africa, WSP in Africa has entered into a sponsorship agreement with Engineers Without Borders (EWB), an on-campus organisation that provides student engineers with the opportunity to work on community projects. 

According to Mathieu du Plooy, CEO of WSP Africa, “Engineering skills are a scarce commodity the world over. However, to put this in context in the local environment, currently there are too few qualified and experienced engineers in the country to meet the targets of the Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) aligned to the National Development Plan (NDP).”

The impact of what this shortage will mean – not only for the engineering and construction sectors, but for the country in terms of reaching the goals and targets as laid out in the NDP by the 2030 deadline – is very real. “Being one of the largest professional engineering consulting firms in Africa, we believe it is our duty to give back by supporting the development of young engineers – not only to future secure talent, but to be a part of the change we want to see in our industry and the country,” adds du Plooy.

The projects selected by EWB’s student chapters give its members the opportunity to practice the theoretical knowledge they gain at university and to make a meaningful difference in communities throughout the country. In addition, these budding engineers gain the soft skills that will aid their further growth and professional advancement when they enter the workplace.

“This is an incredibly exciting chapter for us as it reflects our passion for cultivating this important skill set in South Africa. Without engineers, no country is able to develop the infrastructure needed to meet the demands of the modern age,” adds du Plooy.

To date, WSP has mentored the EWB project team from the University of Pretoria during the mid-year break, and has sponsored the annual EWB Summit that took place in Johannesburg at the end of November. Besides hosting 35 student engineers at its premises in Bryanston, WSP’s experts were involved in a number of panel discussions, including the socio-economic impacts of good engineering in Africa and the importance of mentoring and coaching in career development.

“Our involvement extends to more than just financial support. Looking at 2015, we will be supporting various EWB project teams across the country. We will also be giving our professional engineers the channel to coach and mentor these bright students as they work on their chosen projects,” Du Plooy concludes.