En­gi­neer­ing jobs in con­sult­ing sec­tor in de­cline

But the de­mand for tech­ni­cal staff is ris­ing

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Roy Cokayne

EM­PLOY­MENT in the con­sult­ing en­gi­neer­ing in­dus­try de­clined by 4 per­cent year-onyear in the sec­ond half of last year to an es­ti­mated 23 349 jobs.

How­ever, the num­ber of firms look­ing for en­gi­neers in­creased to 44.9 per­cent from 32 per­cent in the pre­vi­ous six months and 40 per­cent in the last six months of 2015, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est bian­nual eco­nomic and ca­pac­ity sur­vey con­ducted by Con­sult­ing En­gi­neers South Africa (Cesa).

The sur­vey re­port said there was also a notable in­crease in de­mand for other tech­ni­cal staff to 72 per­cent in the sec­ond half of last year from 38 per­cent in the pre­vi­ous six months and 4 per­cent in De­cem­ber 2015.

Fee earn­ings in the last six months of last year rose by 1 per­cent com­pared to the first half of the year but were lower than the ex­pected 6 per­cent in­crease in the pre­vi­ous sur­vey.

Sur­vey re­spon­dents also ex­pect earn­ings to drop by 7 per­cent in the first six months of this year com­pared to the pre­vi­ous six months.

Chris Camp­bell, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Cesa, said yes­ter­day that con­sid­er­ing the trends in the in­dus­try, there were in­di­ca­tions that earn­ings had reached an up­per turn­ing point with a softer growth out­look in the medium term for the in­dus­try.

“Busi­ness con­fi­dence lev­els first need to be re­stored to en­cour­age higher lev­els of in­vest­ment and kick start the be­lea­guered South African econ­omy,” he said.

Camp­bell said ser­vice de­liv­ery, es­pe­cially at mu­nic­i­pal level, re­mained a crit­i­cal burn­ing is­sue, but the con­sult­ing en­gi­neer­ing in­dus­try was threat­ened by in­ca­pac­i­tated lo­cal and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments.

As ma­jor clients to the in­dus­try, it was im­por­tant that these in­sti­tu­tions be­came more ef­fec­tive and proac­tive in iden­ti­fy­ing needs and pri­or­i­ties and more ef­fi­cient in project im­ple­men­ta­tion and man­age­ment.

Pay­ment re­mains a se­ri­ous is­sue for the in­dus­try, with an es­ti­mated R6 bil­lion in earn­ings cur­rently out­stand­ing af­ter the 90-day pe­riod.

This is de­spite the per­cent­age of fees out­stand­ing for longer than 90 days as a per­cent­age of to­tal es­ti­mated in­come mod­er­at­ing to an av­er­age of 23.1 per­cent in De­cem­ber from 25 per­cent in the first six months of last year.

The sur­vey re­port said for­eign clients ac­counted for 61 per­cent of earn­ings out­stand­ing for longer than 90 days, fol­lowed by the pri­vate sec­tor (30 per­cent), lo­cal au­thor­i­ties (4 per­cent), state owned en­ter­prises (2.2 per­cent), pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment (1.4 per­cent) and cen­tral gov­ern­ment (1 per­cent).

The pub­lic sec­tor re­mains the most im­por­tant client to the in­dus­try, with the com­bined con­tri­bu­tion in­creas­ing to 67 per­cent in the last six months of last year from 58 per­cent in the pre­vi­ous six months. This was largely driven by the notable higher con­tri­bu­tion by cen­tral gov­ern­ment to 10 per­cent from 4 per­cent in the pre­vi­ous six months and 5.9 per­cent the sec­ond half of 2015.

The con­tri­bu­tion to fee earn­ings by the pri­vate sec­tor fell to 33 per­cent in the last six months of last year from 41 per­cent in the pre­vi­ous half year.

The sur­vey re­port said this was the low­est con­tri­bu­tion by the pri­vate sec­tor since the June 2004 sur­vey and well be­low the two-year and five-year av­er­age.

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