Young Engineers’ Struggles for Experience: Revisit the Supervised Industrial Training Scheme in Engineering (SITSIE) – Okey Ezema

The Managing Director, Zemas and Partners Nigeria Limited, Engr Okey Ezema has tasked the Nigerian Society of Engineers to revisit the need for proper implementation of the  Supervised Industrial Training Scheme in Engineering (SITSIE) to help the young engineers bridge the gap demand in professional experience.

This was contained as part of his recommendations towards tackling the challenges facing young engineers in the country when he addressed the young Civil engineers under the aegis of Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers, Students Affiliates, NICESA South West Zone recently at an online workshop organised by the body.

Speaking on the topic, Challenges of Engineering Practice in Nigeria, Engr Ezema, who has handled varying public and private projects dipped into his vast experience to look into the challenges facing the professional engineers in Nigeria in a bid to guide the future generation of Civil Engineers.

Venturing into history when things were once rosy for young engineers, he recalled that before 1980 it was very prestigious to practice as an Engineer in Nigeria. Noting that “Construction and production works abound everywhere. The government of the day had enough to invest in Infrastructural development. There were more than enough jobs for professionals in the built environment.”

“Upon graduation, many multinational companies usually flood the gates of higher institutions scouting for young engineers to serve in their establishments. Upon completion of your National Service, you are sure of juicy employment with mouth watering conditions of services…” He recalled.

Tracing the problem of the current generation of engineers to NYSC primary assignment. Engr Ezema said: “The problem of the present generation of Engineers in Nigeria starts with the NYSC primary assignment. We are living in a country where School Proprietors have resorted to the use of Corps members in preference to employment of well trained teachers. Usually young engineers Corp members are always well sought after to teach Mathematics, Additional mathematics, Physics and Chemistry.”

“The same schools hardly employ them after the primary assignment on ground that they are not trained Teachers {no certificate in Education}”

He regrets however that “On completion of National Youth Service Corps, the Engineers are not always employed by Engineering based organizations due to lack of experience in design, construction, management etc.”

“How could they have acquired experience when they were denied the opportunity of serving in engineering-based organizations who often reject them at the incipient stage for lack of jobs.” He asked.

He however acknowledged that the situation was aggravated by the dwindling economic fortune of the country as “the sociopolitical atmosphere in Nigeria degenerated so badly that many foreign companies had to leave the country.”

Added to this is the insecurity, instability and epileptic power supply which forced many companies to close shop, thereby reducing the available opportunities for engineers to practice.

The struggle for the emancipation and restoration of the dignity of the Nigerian Engineers is a task that must be accomplished by the Special grace of God

Other factors he listed that contributed to the rot is the low morale of many Nigerian engineers in some foreign owned companies where racial discrimination were the basis for remuneration and better condition of services. Drawing from his personal experiences. he noted that the practice was widespread in the 80s.

In addition to this is the activities of quackery and encroachment of engineering profession by non registered engineers and other professionals who are feeding fat in the engineering domain with the usual building and infrastructure collapse syndrome as the result.. This major problem is responsible for the large number of unemployed Engineers in Nigeria.

No sparing the NSE, he pointed out that “every new President of our revered Society the Nigerian Society of Engineers prefers to devise new policy rather than consolidating on the gains of the policies of their predecessors.” This policy inconsistent,” he said, “is inimical to the growth of the profession.”

Ezema who was recently conferred with Award of  the “Most Student Friendly Personality of the year” Notied that “many of our leaders in the past came up with nice policies intended to reduce drastically to the barest minimum the problems of our Engineers in practice. However policy inconsistency has derailed most of the well intended programs.”

One of such policy is ” Supervised Industrial Training Scheme in Engineering (SITSIE), a program where the Trainer and the Trainee are to be remunerated by the Federal Government” which non implementation has reduced the dream of transfer of practical knowledge to the younger generation of Engineers.

He also observed the exploitation of engineers by engineers and highlighted the need for engineers to also pay attention to salary of their staff.

While acknowledging the efforts of NSE leaders and others at ensuring that the Government approved reservation of contracts less than N500, 000,000.00 for Nigerian Indigenous Contractors. (This has been revised to a limit of N2.5B in the Government gazette of 16th April 2018); he regretted that most indigenous employers have not used this opportunity to better lots of their staff. “Most of them exploit their staff to an impossible condition leaving them in perpetual abject poverty less than even the minimum allowance paid by the expatriates.”

“Who do you complain to in absence of Engineers Labor Union?” He asked. “The leadership of NSE will tell you they have fought and succeeded for the implementation of the Local Content Act so salary negotiation is our individual task? Again we find ourselves at cross roads.”

In addressing the challenges facing the young engineers, he suggested that NSE should revisit the  Supervised Industrial Training Scheme in Engineering (SITSIE) and pursue its approval vigorously. This he believes will position the young engineers to take their destiny in their own hands and prepare them to be true leaders of tomorrow.

He urged the young engineers to prepare for the challenges ahead and understand the pitfalls in order to prepare for a better tomorrow.

He urged the elders of the profession to continue to do their best in any area they find themselves for the betterment and advancement of the younger generation of Engineers in Nigeria.

“The struggle for the emancipation and restoration of the dignity of the Nigerian Engineers is a task that must be accomplished by the Special grace of God. Together we shall put our hands on the plough until the deed is done. Greater together, victory is certain.” He concluded

The event was organised by the South West Zone of Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers Students Wing as part of their mentoring and professional development  series.

By Isqil Najim follow on Twitter @isqilnajim



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