Why isn’t Government employing QSs?

by Ofentse Sefolo
Why isn’t Government employing QSs?

What has happened since President Cyril Ramaphosa announced economic transformation and job creation as the first of seven key priorities to get South Africa back on track in his third State of the Nation Address? According to Patience More, Registrar at SACQSP (SA Council for the Quantity Surveying Profession), which oversees the professional registration of quantity surveyors (QSs), government has continued to put pressure on industry bodies and statutory professional councils such as the SACQSP, to speed up transformation within the quantity surveying profession or face harsh consequences.

Frustrated QSs
Patience says many of the daily calls she receives are from frustrated candidate QSs that are employed by the government. The main complaint lodged by these candidate QSs is that they are unable to register as professional QSs because no registered professional quantity surveyor (PrQS) mentors are assigned to them.

“This is immensely problematic for any candidate QS aspiring to become professionally registered, as it is a statutory requirement prescribed in the Quantity Surveying Professions Act that every candidate QS is obliged to work under the supervision of a PrQS in order to gain professional registration with the council,” says More.

In order to become professionally registered as a QS, a candidate will need to demonstrate that he/she has the same or equal competence and accountability that is required from registered professional QS’s involved in the oversight and management of large, public-funded construction projects.

Years with no projects
“In some cases, the candidate QSs have been working for Government for over five years without being assigned to complex projects. These candidate QSs are left to do administrative work, while the more complex and demanding quantity surveying work is placed out on government tender and effectively outsourced. If Government wants to see meaningful and sustained transformative change in the quantity surveying profession, they as the largest employer in the nation cannot afford to continue to place the onus for training candidate quantity surveyors predominantly on the private sector. Instead, they must lead by example and create an appropriate environment that enables candidate QSs to gain the required experience, professional training and mentorship so that they can become professionally registered as per their route to registration. The only realistic way to achieve this goal is if government departments, municipalities and state-owned enterprises employ properly qualified professional quantity surveyors to assist in developing and training these candidates,” Patience urges.

SA needs more qualified QSs

According to Patience, Quantity Surveyors are desperately needed within government departments to deal with everything from cost overruns and inefficiencies to corruption.

“There are not enough quantity surveyors to have oversight on all of the construction projects that government is funding. The few quantity surveyors that are employed by Government are saddled with so many projects that they are simply unable to accurately keep track of the intricacies and complexities involved in cost control project financial management. On projects where a team of quantity surveyors would realistically be required, government departments are lucky if just one professional quantity surveyor has a moderate level of oversight on a project.”

Why isn’t government employing QSs?

According to an article in Engineering News in October 2019, despite QSs overseeing construction projects to the value of tens of billions of rands, only a handful are employed by the Department of Public Works. Larry Feinberg, Executive Director of the Association of Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS), says that this is an unmanageable workload for a QS.

“The handful of professional QSs employed by government have too much on their plates to responsibly manage cost control. The annual salary that government would pay for employing a registered professional QS is minuscule compared to the amount of construction project corruption and misspending they would almost assuredly be able to prevent. Why isn’t government – the largest employer in the country – employing skilled and experienced QSs to work on their construction projects and root out corrupt procurement practices and shady project expenditure? This problem runs much deeper than transformation,” says Larry.

Full thanks and acknowledgement are given to https://www.asaqs.co.za/ for some of the information in this article.

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