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Exploring challenges in recruiting and retaining civil engineers within the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport.

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The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport (KZN-DOT) is a provincial department and its core function is the construction, upgrading, maintenance of road infrastructure and the control of the provincial road network. The availability of competent, qualified, skilled, experienced engineering team in the field of engineering is critical for the achievement of KZNDOT objective. However, the shortage of engineers has been identified frequently as one of the key features that inhibiting the achievement of KZNDOT objective. In light of the above context the study was conducted with attempts to explore the challenges faced by the KZNDOT in recruiting and retaining engineers which are typically required for the achievement of the balanced road network for the KwaZulu-Natal province for social development and economic growth. The research was conducted at the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport. A qualitative research design was used and case study as the strategy whereby one–on-one interviews were used to collect data from the sampled respondents in order to understand the research problem. Data collected was analysed according to six phases of thematic analysis. Results of the study shows that engineers play critical role for the implementation and the delivery of road infrastructure projects. However, the challenge was that there is a shortage of engineers and undeniable challenge in recruiting and retaining engineers within the KZNDOT. It was clear from the findings that the current recruitment and retention policies are not yielding any results to curb the high vacancy rate of engineers as the department is experiencing the infrastructure backlog, poor performance reporting and under expenditure. Also, that there is a high staff migration because the department competes in the same limited pool of engineers with other levels of government and private sector. The study concluded that current policies and programs are not effective in addressing the challenge of recruiting and retaining engineers. Key recommendations were made based from the findings of the study among other was the review of policies. Also, for the department to consider to approach DPSA through the Office of the Premier for the consideration of a holistic, standardized and balanced remuneration model that allows the department to be on par with municipalities and private Sector with the aim of eliminating competition between these sectors and eliminate employee migration.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.