CAPE TOWN –The South African Institute of Civil Engineering (Saice), one of the biggest voluntary professional organisations in the country with 12000 members, has lost 1.73 percent of its members to emigration in the past three years, a statement said yesterday. 

Most of these engineers had sought greener pastures and opportunities and were between the ages of 30 and 60, Saice said. 

South Africa’s brain drain has been reaching alarming proportions, and in 2017 alone, according to the Department of Home Affairs statistics, the number of professionals who left represented 7 percent of the total number of professions employed here at the time. 

The infrastructure sector is in a slump, with consulting firms retrenching technical staff and even shutting down due to lack of work, forcing qualified professionals into unemployment and seeking employment in foreign lands, taking their skills with them, said Saice acting chief executive Steven Kaplan. 

“The brain drain is devastating. It costs the country a lot of money and resources to produce world-class engineers to lose them because they can't find work in a country where they're needed the most is a travesty,” he said. 

The government needs to make strides to attract South African engineers back to the country, and back into the government sector where they were most needed, he added. 

“The serious shortage of technically qualified managers in all three spheres of government is of great concern. It appears the weakness in government structures is the lack of knowledge on how to identify projects and how to effectively spend the allocated money. This is evident from the lack of structures, processes, systems as well as suitably qualified and experienced individuals in government to manage infrastructure spend.”