The importance of structured mentorship programs in the South African construction industry

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By Nosiyabonga Mongane, President, South African Council for The Quantity Surveying Profession

 A structured mentorship program is an intentional approach for developing mentees systematically, employing workshops, lesson plans, and other interactive learning programs. The intentional mentorship program in the South African construction industry is crucial to improving some of the challenges the sector or country is currently facing.

 

Addressing skills shortage of skilled labour

The construction sector is grappling with a shortage of skilled workers, a factor significantly impacting its success and expansion. The imbalance between the demand for skilled labour and its availability persists due to rising investments in infrastructure. Addressing this skilled gap is paramount to achieving growth objectives. Implementing structured mentorship programs can play a pivotal role in fostering and cultivating local talent, thereby ensuring a consistent supply of skilled labour. This will ensure that the sector has enough capacity to meet the demands of new projects.

 

Promote economic growth

Both the private sector and public sectors must invest in well-structured training programs to foster the development of a highly skilled workforce, which can significantly enhance South Africa’s economic growth. The implementation of improved and inclusive procurement practices, which includes training programs to empower and uplift small and medium enterprises (SMMEs), can foster economic growth. SMMEs play a pivotal role in the South African economy, contributing to job creation, economic growth, and poverty alleviation. Accounting for 40 percent of the GDP, SMMEs operate across diverse sectors such as construction, manufacturing, services, and agriculture, thereby playing a crucial role in promoting inclusive economic development.

Promoting transformation and diversity

Structured mentorship programmes have the potential to support broader industry transformation goals by assisting previously disadvantaged individuals to gain the skills and experience required to succeed and advance in the construction industry. This can also include underrepresented groups, such as young people and women promoting diversity and inclusion in the sector. South Africa, like many nations worldwide, faces the pressing issue of youth unemployment.

The Statics SA reported a 45.5% unemployment rate among young people aged 15-34 years, contrasting starkly with the national average of 32.9% in the initial quarter of 2024. Therefore, a structured mentorship programme can alleviate young unemployment. We need government and public commitment to improve the status quo and the future of our young people.

Career development

Structured mentorship programs can provide a clear career path for young professionals, assisting them to understand the steps needed to achieve their professional goals and motivating them to stay in the industry. Furthermore, mentorship offers young professionals a chance to broaden their network and gain insights from seasoned individuals. Mentorship can offer skills development, whether through direct teaching, feedback, or exposure to new experiences and challenges. It promotes personal and professional growth, empowering individuals to reach their full potential in their careers. By engaging in mentorship programs, the youth can maintain focus and dedication to their career development.

Knowledge transfer

Knowledge transfer is essential for mentorship programs to succeed and be effective. Mentors share their expertise, skills, and experience with their mentees; they empower them to undergo personal and professional growth and development.

For example, experienced professionals nearing retirement can transfer their knowledge to the next generation, and this will ensure that valuable knowledge and skills are retained within the industry. Mentorship provides mentees with accessible role models who exemplify success in the field through their actions and behavior. This is particularly valuable for mentees from historically disadvantaged backgrounds.

In conclusion, well-structured mentorship programs can significantly drive skills development, economic growth, transformation, and youth employment.

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