Pretoria - There has been a significant improvement in transformation in the construction industry and an upward trend in overall compliance by the sector.
This was one of the major findings of the first baseline report released on Thursday by the Construction Sector Charter Council (CSCC) on the state and progress of transformation and empowerment in the construction sector between 2009 and last year.
Felix Fongoqa, the CSCC’s chairman, said last week that the overall level of compliance by the industry to broad-based black economic empowerment had improved to 85 percent last year for companies in level 4 and above from 64 percent in 2009. He said this had to be commended.
However, Fongoqa said there had been low industry participation in this voluntary survey, which was a problem.
He also expressed concern about the levels of compliance with the skills development element and a lack of critical knowledge by verification agencies about the construction sector.
He said that in future the CSCC should not rely on voluntary participation by companies, but should have regulations that forced the submission of scorecards.
Fongoqa said the CSCC had started engaging with the Trade and Industry Department and Construction Industry Development Board about this issue.
There was a need to raise the bar in terms of the training and compliance monitoring of verification agencies and he appealed to the SA National Accreditation System and Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors to take appropriate action in dealing with agencies that contravened the rules.
If this was not done, it would in the future result in some companies being accused of misrepresentation and fronting, he said.
Fongoqa said the industry’s transformation efforts were focused on high levels of achievement in socio-economic development, procurement and enterprise development, but the levels of compliance for skills development were generally lower than expected.
The compliance of large contractors with the skills development element improved to only 50 percent last year from 46 percent in 2009.
Large built environment professionals achieved the lowest level of compliance for this element, with it declining to 62 percent last year from 70 percent in 2009.
Fongoqa said the CSCC believed skills development compliance had a huge impact on achieving sustainable growth and in facilitating high levels of compliance in internal factors, such as ownership, management control and employment equity.
“If we sort out this one element it will have a ripple effect on the other three elements,” he said.
Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said a key component of transformation was to transform the workplace from a low skills base to one that was highly productive.
To achieve this, the skills of the current workforce had to be developed, which would have an impact on the productivity and incomes of workers.
“This goes to the heart of our NDP [National Development Plan] and the National Infrastructure Plan, and the strategic goal of leveraging infrastructure investment to stimulate economic growth, jobs and skills development, and transformation.”
Fongoqa said there was a high percentage of black-owned and black woman-owned enterprises among exempted micro enterprises and qualifying small enterprises, but there was a scarcity of companies that were 51 percent black owned and black woman owned at the large enterprise level.
“We believe deliberate programmes need to be developed to address this particular issue,” he said.