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SQAL | Creating a new Generation of Professionals

By • Annemarie Fish | Director| SQAL Property Technology

Since being a Geomatics Practitioner is a relatively new profession, a category within South African Geomatics Council (SAGC), it is of utmost importance to develop and mentor new graduates.

Geographical Information is defined as information that describes the location and characteristics of natural or human-made phenomena in relation to the earth’s surface. Geomatics practitioners exercise skills and competencies in the science of measurement, the collection and assessment of geographic information and the application of that information in the efficient administration of land, the sea and structures thereon or therein. To enable professional registration, graduates need to be appointed at a company or government department and work under a registered Gisc Practitioner for a set amount of time.

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, the importance of spatial analysis and locational intelligence is to assist with the disaster management operations, planning and decision making.

The graduates of today are facing challenges, which include academic gaps, unemployment, workplace readiness and communication skills. Various employment sectors come with their own processes and expectations. As professionals, we need to be able to navigate these environments and still maintain our ethics and codes of conduct.

My involvement, as a Gisc Mentor, with graduate professionalisation, stems from my previous position in Local Government, and now at a Regional Water Board. The Infrastructure Skills Development Grant is a well structured and focussed internship program, funded by National Treasury. The greatest challenge I have seen is the acceptance of the graduates into the workplace. I have found that in some instances the supervisors are not registered, thus providing repetitive work and not aligning work to the required outcomes. This causes frustration or loss of interest by the graduates. I also find greater workloads in SOE’s and private companies hosting the graduates.

Other issues include the ability of the graduates to communicate and connect with colleagues. Social media among other reasons are to blame, but as a mentor, this is the type of softer skill that needs to be emphasised. Currently, 5 of the 8 graduates are either registered or busy with their professional work in learning submissions.