Engineering skills shortage in Eskom : an analysis of the situation and an assessment of the impact of current and proposed interventions.
South Africa currently finds itself in a constrained environment. In order to alleviate this constraint, Eskom, the dominant (and state-owned) electricity supplier in South Africa has embarked on an electricity capacity expansion programme. One of the constraints on the capacity expansion programme, as identified by Eskom, is the shortage of skills including that of engineering skills. Firstly, an understanding of the background to the shortage of engineering skills in South Africa and Eskom was gained through literature review. Thereafter, a list of contributors was identified in terms of the skills shortage in South Africa and Eskom. In addition to this local view of the engineering skills shortage issue, the author of this dissertation supplemented this with a review of international literature. The issue was then documented using systems thinking diagramming techniques which eventually culminated in the development of a draft systems dynamics model of the shortage of engineering skills in Eskom for the capacity expansion effort. Once the draft system dynamics model was developed, the author of this dissertation conducted one-on-one interviews with staff members who represented the stakeholders in the engineering skills shortage issue for Eskom's capacity expansion programme. This enabled the author of this dissertation to share his understanding of the problem with the interviewees and to gain an improved understanding of the issue by listening to the interviewees. Thereafter, this improved understanding was utilised to update the systems dynamics model. Finally, this updated model was utilised to perform an analysis to determine the leverage points to alleviate the engineering skills shortage problem in Eskom's capacity expansion programme. The literature survey suggested that mentorship, retention of current engineering skills and improving the image of engineering (in general) should be pursued to alleviate the shortage of engineering skills in the electricity industry. Furthermore, the use of interviews and systems dynamics modelling suggested that there needs to be a core focus on mentorship. In addition, effort should be allocated to attracting more of the under-represented groups into engineering i.e. women and black males. Furthermore, effort needs to be placed on specifying the capacity expansion resource requirements adequately i.e. plans in terms of numbers of people, qualifications and skill level are required. Finally, the interview process highlighted the view (not supported by systems dynamics modelling) that outsourcing of engineering work and importing of engineering skills should be pursued as a last resort. KEYWORDS Eskom, Engineering Skills Shortage, Capacity Expansion Programme.