The international operations of Murray & Roberts have shone in a challenging year, reinforcing the wisdom of the Group’s increasing exposure to growth markets beyond South Africa.
HOME GROWN TALENT
Andrew Skudder, Murray & Roberts Group sustainability director
To ensure it has adequate engineering capacity, Murray & Roberts actively recruits and develops engineering graduates. The Group’s Graduate Development Programme is geared for a range of engineering disciplines. “With the skills shortage, it’s very important that we build our own talent because it’s difficult to find engineers in a competitive marketplace,” says Group sustainability director, Andrew Skudder. “We want them to understand our purpose, values and mission from the very beginning.”
STRENGTHENING PROJECT MANAGEMENT CAPACITY
The construction and engineering industry also encounters skills shortages in project management – a critical skill for Murray & Roberts and other contractors as their success depends on the favourable outcome of the projects they work on. “The scale of the projects that we carry out, particularly for Government and state-owned entities, pushes our project management capacity to its limits and can cause major risk to our project managers,” says Skudder. Because a large part of project management skill is experiential, Murray & Roberts believes in giving young graduates the opportunity to manage projects early in their careers under the tutelage of experienced project managers. While technical project management experience is invaluable, these individuals also need to be good leaders. “We’re focused on enhancing the leadership capabilities of all our managers, but specifically project management because that represents the pinnacle point of our business.”
Creating employment and developing critical artisan skills Artisinal skills are also in short supply. “Finding riggers, boilermakers or welders is a continuous challenge,” says Skudder. “But it presents a huge opportunity for the employment and development of people. The solution is that we need to improve FET (Further Education and Training) colleges, as well as internal skills training within organisations.
” Organisations like Murray & Roberts need to support the transformation of the education system in South Africa as learners from secondary schools become the talent pool that feeds into tertiary institutions. “We need an ongoing effort to improve the quality of education – our maths and science teacher competencies in particular. As a society, we need to develop the right quality of teachers and retain them in their profession. “And we need a greater focus on early childhood development, especially on numeracy and literacy in the schooling path,” Skudder concludes.
Based on an excerpt from an article published in Business Day Empowerment, 1 July 2013.