Construction professions ask to reserve work

Engineers and other construction professions may be allowed to reserve work if an application to the Competition Commission succeeds.

The Competition Commission notes in the Government Gazette of 20 June 2014, 37740 59, under Notice 447 OF 2014, that the Council for the Built Environment (CBE), on behalf of the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), has applied to be exempted from the provisions of Chapter 2, in terms of Schedule 1 A and B of the Competition Act.

The CBE is a statutory body in terms of the Council for the Built Environment Act (CBE Act), to oversee the conduct of a number of professional councils.

However the CBE may be dissolved by the Department of Public Works due to proliferation of professional bodies and boards (see a separate report on the CBE on Sheqafrica.com).

The exemption application relates to the Identification of Work (IDOW) rules developed by the Engineering Council to identify and regulate work, based on professional skills and competencies.

The current application argues that the IDOW rules are “necessary to maintain professional standards, or the ordinary function of the profession.

The application may succeed before the possible repeal of the CBE Act, when professional functions may revert back to the Engineering Council.

The SACPCMP may also opt to protect itself against legal challenge by also obtaining an exemption for reserving work for construction project managers and health and safety Agents, Managers and Officers.

Consultants want fair competition

Consulting body NIOCCSA said they have been keeping a close watch on the IDOW process for a year. The application is the CBE’s second attempt.

“We have written to the Competition Commission asking for details when it applied for exemption for all six construction councils,” said Rudy Maritz.

“The prescribed process was not followed, in an attempt to steam-roll the exemption without due public participation. New barriers to entry or IDOW rules would not be necessary if the national qualifications framework defined the skills and qualifications for the professions.

“We already have the International Standard for Classification of Occupations, issued by the ILO. The state now follows the idea that bodies could confer professional status based on assessing and testing short courses, experience and skills, resulting in cheaper qualifications. Yet there are many current and potential flaws in privatised registration.

“In addition , three pieces of legislation work against one another; the Competition Act prevents barriers of entry into a profession, but the IDOW Rules do exactly that by setting minimum qualifications and experience, while the transformation Acts, NQF, Skills Development and BBBEE Act promote compulsory ‘opportunities’ for the previously disadvantaged regardless of required skills,” said NIOCCSA.

“The Construction Regulations suffers the same legal, policy, and training quality conflicts. Exemption mechanisms are the pressure relief valves. The state is fixing things that are not broken, while neglecting to fix education and tertiary training.”

* See several posts on construction professions and health and safety registration issues on Sheqafrica.com.

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Edmond Furter

Editor at Sheqafrica.com
Edmond Furter is the editor of Sheqafrica.com. He is a freelance technical journalist, and has won six journalism awards. He specialises in industrial, business, and cultural content in web, journal, and book formats.