Capacity Building in the engineering environment is a lever for economic, social and sustainable development, and is recognized as a priority in the global engineering community.
The WFEO Committee on Engineering Capacity Building (CECB) is dealing with this important component of informed decision making on several fronts.–Yashin Brijmohan, Chair of CECB (South Africa)capacity-building(at)wfeo.org
In today’s global economy every country has to acknowledge the need to create sustainability at all levels of engineering services, products and amenities in order to provide for the needs of communities in a world of diminishing resources, environmental challenges and a strong need to reduce the consumption of limited resources.
This can be achieved partially by ensuring appropriate and suitable engineering educational programs of an accredited quality. A competent engineering workforce base can then provide several paths to sustainable development as well as to ensure that all role-players and stakeholders including investors focus on sustainability and equitable solutions for engineering services, amenities and products. In the case of developing countries the utilization of foreign aid and investment funds should be managed by professionally competent people and groups.
Capacity building as envisaged by the CECB focuses on strengthening economies, governments, institutions and individuals through education, training, mentoring, orientation and the mobilization of resources. It aims at developing secure, stable, appropriate, affordable and sustainable structures, systems and organizations, with a particular emphasis on improving the quality of life.
In the global economy of the 21st Century, engineering professionals play a key role in the overall economic development activities of countries and regions but only when the role of the engineering professional is well understood and utilized. This holds true for both developed as well as developing countries.
In the developed world the challenges are mostly to maintain the ageing engineering infrastructure. However, in much of the developing world the available pool of engineering skills is typically below critical mass and economic development and even important basic human needs that rely on engineering, such as potable water supply and sanitation issues, lack technical expertise to address these issues.
On the other hand, indigenous science, engineering and technological capacity is needed to ensure that international aid funds are appropriate, and utilized effectively and efficiently, through initial project implementation and long-term operation and maintenance to ensure the transfer of skills and the development of capacity to operate, maintain the entities that were created and even implement future projects. A sufficient pool of engineering professional can therefore enable a developing country to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) effectively, including poverty reduction, safe drinkable water, sanitation and so forth.
In order to create or develop and maintain a sustainable engineering related work force in all countries, education and training as well as informed decision makers in Governments at all levels and in the private sector, there is a substantial need to mobilisze expertise to ensure that this goal is achieved. The World Federation of Engineering Organizations, through its Committee on Engineering Capacity Building (CECB), is dedicating its efforts to assisting countries to engage at all the various levels of capacity building to effectively create sustainability and for developing countries to have an equitable place in the global marketplace, by means of suitable and appropriate capacity building initiatives.
Committee on Engineering Capacity Building is also critical to disaster risk management – strong engineering capability is vital to reduce risk, improve preparedness, respond appropriately and then implement recovery plans.
VisionIn the pursuit of a secure, stable and sustainable world, countries need to sustain and or enhance their human, institutional and infrastructure capacity.
To achieve this goal, countries need a sufficient pool of appropriately educated and trained engineering professionals and practitioners to effectively sustain and where indicated, improve the quality of life for their communities and citizens.
In the case of developing countries the presence of such a group of professionals could facilitate the infusion of foreign capital through attraction of multinational companies to invest in that particular country, assist in making sure that foreign aid funds are appropriate as well as that these funds are applied consistently and wisely in order to transfer skills and as such build indigenous capacity to deal with engineering infrastructure, services and products.
This pool of experts can also provide a basis for business development by local entrepreneurs. In developed countries the challenges that face the engineering professions are different and much focus needs to be set on maintaining and replacing aged infrastructure and to promote attention to these issues to the decision-making authorities.
In addition there is a diminishing engineering workforce due to a lack of interest from young citizens and in many cases these developed countries have contributed substantially to the brain drain of engineering professionals from developing countries and therefore need to embark on capacity building ventures to rekindle a new interest in engineering from their own communities.
In turn, the establishment and maintenance of indigenous engineering capacity is imperative to ultimately ensure that developing countries can become equal partners in world trade and commerce in order to provide sustainable economies that are not relying on continuous handouts from developed countries. The removal of trade barriers by some developed countries goes hand in hand with facilitating the rise of sustainable economies in previously disadvantaged or excluded countries, which are mostly in under developed regions of the world.
In a coordinated approach, UNESCO and WFEO are joining and mobilizing forces to harmonize, align and integrate efforts in terms of capacity building in the engineering environment of both developed as well as developing countries by means of education and training, communication, facilitation and promotion regarding the principles of sustainability.
Mission StatementThe mission of the WFEO-CECB is to identify and mobilize a representative international teams of individuals from member countries, with a thorough understanding of the needs of communities in terms of sustainable engineering infrastructure, services and products.
MandateEngineering capacity is a prerequisite for the sustainability of countries, their communities and ultimately the world in general. This applies whether or not a country is developed or not.
In the quest to ensure and facilitate sustainable engineering, the mandate of the CECB is to identify needs for capacity building within the engineering professions and for areas associated with engineering as well as to provide guidelines and ideas for capacity building activities, events, projects and programs.
The CECB acts as a mechanism to harmonize and align as well as integrate capacity building initiatives within the membership of the WFEO and where possible beyond the membership of the WFEO.
The CECB furthermore has a mandate to communicate the outcomes of the tasks assigned to the member countries of the WFEO as well as to the public at large as represented by Governments and other civil, commercial and industry structures and stakeholders.
To identify, advise, as well as develop and facilitate ways and means to address shortcomings and gaps in engineering and decision making capacity at all levels of society and in the engineering professions.