By now, we have all heard about the local communities stopping projects across the country because the local SMME (Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise) is not being given opportunities. Whilst some of the community may be deemed political opportunists, there are many within the community who just want an opportunity to improve their skills and have a better life.
Jeff Pipe is managing director at Archway Projects
The government realises that it needs to address this imbalance and is trying to implement a development programme for SMME building and civil contractors. But if we are truly serious about SMME development we will need to do a lot more than introduce new policies. There is, simply put, a clear limit to what new or modified policies can achieve in the quest for industry transformation.
It’s one thing getting an SMME contractor onto a project – but if the administrators of the project are not sufficiently committed to the SMME contractor’s development, very limited progress will occur, regardless of which company names are listed on the formal project documentation. Indeed, to achieve successful SMME development of the sort Government desires, it will surely be necessary to re-structure major portions of the project life-cycle to ensure that each phase is explicitly geared towards SMME development.
The bottom line is that our industry needs to factor SMME inexperience into its methodology if meaningful development is going to occur. We all know we need to help where we can with developing SMME contractors, and that the current imbalance in our industry will lead to future complications for South Africa as a whole. It’s crucial, however, that this mindset is given effective practical shape when it comes to the project life-cycle and general methodology. Without very clear, tangible interventions we stand in danger of being buried beneath our own good intentions.
There are many of us who have many years of project management and construction experience that could make a remarkable difference in this country’s future by all of us getting involved with SMME mentorship and development. It’s a matter of not standing and watching it go wrong; rather, rolling up our sleeves and getting involved in making it right by helping to develop the next wave of construction companies to ensure their successful future in return of this country getting better-quality buildings and roads whilst making a huge improvement to the employment situation.
The SACPCMP has professional registration categories specifically focused on mentorship. The organisation encourages those with more than ten years of construction experience and a desire to make a difference to apply as a Professional Construction Mentor (Pr C Mentor) or Construction Mentor (C Mentor) and get involved with the roll-out of the next generation of contractors.