Public Works lessens burden for students

2014-08-25 00:00

WHEN the Public Works Department offered Theon Pillay a bursary for his BSc degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a financial burden was removed from his parents.

“The department made things easy by assisting with funding. It made light the financial burden on my parents,” he said.

Pillay is one of the many students who benefit from the department’s programme to build necessary skills, capacity and resources in its departments.

In the last year, the department filled 194 vacant positions and of those hired 26 were professionals and 33 technical personnel.

“Notwithstanding this significant achievement, our vacancy rate remains a challenge. The filling of vacant funded posts is a moving target,” MEC Ravi Pillay said.

Pillay is now doing his internship so that he could obtain on-the-job training and be registered with the professional body of quantity surveyors.

“I have two-and-a-half years of training left. I will still have to do professional examinations,” he said.

Pillay also said the department has 53 interns being mentored in various professions such as architecture, quantity surveying, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, civil engineering and project management.

Out of the 35 construction project management interns, 26 were mentored in the department.

The department is currently funding 24 students with bursaries, with 10 being in their final stages of their studies.

“After graduation they will serve the department in various fields within the built environment sector for a compulsory minimum period of three years as stipulated in the bursary contract,” the MEC said.

Pillay said the placement with a Pietermaritzburg-based company would enable him to be registered as a professional quantity surveyor once he completed the internship.

“According to my contract, when I finish training, I will go and work with the department to pay back the bursary. I will decide if I wish to stay in the department. I will assess my career at that point,” he said.

Another quantity surveyor, Nabeel Rahman, said the bursary and the internship has been exciting.

“It provides a lot of opportunities after graduation. It is useful. I definitely encourage others for the future,” said Rahman, who is with a Durban company.

“We get exposed to various types of experience,” he said.

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