Since January 2023, a notable development in South Africa is the requirement for mentors involved in the Mine Engineer’s Certificate of Competency to possess certification from an accredited institution.
They must also demonstrate the mentorship of at least five engineers in training, among other prerequisites.
Although this may be perceived as an additional hurdle in obtaining certification, its potential benefits extend beyond the engineers themselves and can significantly contribute to the improvement of efficiency, productivity, and safety within mining operations. Consequently, the question arises as to whether Namibia will choose to follow South Africa’s lead and implement mandatory mentoring certification for engineers.
It is undeniable that mentorship plays a crucial role in effective skills transfer and allows the younger generation of engineering professionals to benefit from the wealth of knowledge and experience present within an organisation. For Namibia, initiating this requirement could make a substantial difference in altering mindsets and fostering career progression for engineers while simultaneously enhancing the operational aspects of organisations.
It would be reasonable to anticipate some initial resistance among engineers when it comes to pursuing mentorship skills and additional requirements for certification. Time constraints, a lack of incentives or rewards, and inadequate training in mentoring methodologies could all contribute to their reluctance. Furthermore, this shift signifies a departure from established norms, and fears of potential mistakes or misguided advice may impede their enthusiasm.
Presently, in Namibia, there is no obligation for engineers to register with the Engineering Council of Namibia, in contrast to the mandatory registration requirement imposed on health workers by the Health Professionals’ Council of Namibia prior to commencing their professional activities. Additionally, other barriers hinder the registration process, such as stringent requirements that prevent experienced engineers with over 10 years of expertise from obtaining registration.
To overcome these challenges, organisations will need to actively support and incentivise mentors and their younger counterparts, in addition to providing them with comprehensive training and ongoing support to enhance their mentoring skills. The ultimate objective should be to cultivate a culture that values mentoring and encourages engineers to embrace the role of mentors. Such an approach would not only help contribute to the certification requirements but also foster an environment that promotes continuous learning and development, which benefits both the organisation and its engineers.
The significance of mentoring skills in the engineering sector cannot be overstated. It serves as a critical component in facilitating skills transfer, enabling the next generation of mining professionals to acquire the necessary competencies. Moreover, it could help Namibian organisations to establish a talent pipeline to ensure business continuity. Additionally, mentoring facilitates overall job performance improvements by identifying areas for enhancement and setting clear goals for individual growth.
Effective mentors empower engineers by providing guidance and support, helping them overcome challenges, acquire new skills, and reach their full potential. However, such skills could also equip engineers with essential leadership abilities, including effective communication, active listening, and problem-solving.
These competencies are essential for career advancement and personal growth. Furthermore, mentoring would expose engineers to diverse perspectives and alternative ways of thinking, broadening their horizons and fostering creativity and innovation. Ultimately, these skills contribute not only to their careers but also to the productivity and success of the organisation and Namibia as a whole. Moreover, mentoring will nurture professional networks and relationships, which will provide valuable insights, guidance, and opportunities for career progression.
Given that Namibia currently does not have such a requirement, it can be inferred that engineers would need to obtain a certificate of competency from an accredited provider in order to comply with the certification prerequisites.
To help facilitate this process, Namibian organisations can actively encourage engineers to seek mentorship training programmes provided by reputable institutions. This focused training approach equips engineers with the necessary guidance, expediting this certification journey. Consequently, engineers can emerge as effective mentors, augmenting their professional profiles and showcasing their dedication to personal growth and the prosperity of their organisation. Such a path would enable Namibia to successfully implement a mentorship model within its engineering sector.
In conclusion, while it remains challenging to predict whether Namibia will emulate South Africa’s footsteps in making mentoring certification mandatory for engineers, there is substantial merit in considering such a move. The potential benefits derived from mandatory mentorship certification are significant, fostering growth, improved performance, and enhanced safety for both engineers and organisational operations. By proactively addressing the challenges at hand and establishing a supportive environment, Namibia can unlock the full potential of its engineers and forge a path toward a prosperous future within the engineering sector.