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Professional Construction Managers and Project Managers are still needed…there is still hope for South Africa!

The South African construction industry has been in decline since 2017, with the industry’s output value in real terms contracting by 3.3% in 2019[1]. This general decline is attributed to economic slowdown. Weak consumer and investor confidence, and declining public and private sector investments in construction projects. This negative trend was not helped with the 2020 COVID pandemic arguably dealing the death blow to a struggling industry. Data for the second quarter of 2020 from Stats SA showed the construction sector declining by a seasonally adjusted and annualised rate of 76.6%[2].

As a professional in the construction industry one is therefore tempted to think that professional accreditations and registrations are not important anymore, as the country and industry is going down the drain. This type of narrative would however be foolish and factually incorrect.

The graph from the World Bank shows South Africa’s economic engine has been in far darker depths for longer periods of time (refer to the 10-year period 1983 through to 1994). The data shows that we’ve come back from economic troughs before, time and again, and can most certainly do it again!

Graph courtesy of the World Bank (https://data.worldbank.org )

Resurgence in low- to medium cost construction projects

Yes large scale, country-wide construction is not booming like in the years running up to the 2010 World Cup. That said, the construction sector also is not entirely dead, with a resurgence in low to medium cost, mixed-use developments seeing the light.

Mention is made here of the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa that includes:

  • The R30 billion Mooikloof Mega City
  • The feasibility of the Gautrain Railway Extensions
  • Bullish property developers such as Atterbury and McCormick pushing ahead with their development pipelines.

A few examples are the R1.2 billion Pretoria West mega-mall and the R6 billion Castle Gate precinct. That is in the Pretoria region alone. South Africa is blessed with exceptional property entrepreneurs: such as Jonathan Liebmann who revived old, struggling property neighbourhoods and in the process created property value in the billions of rands.

Mindset change for Construction Project Managers

The difference might need to happen in our thinking, conduct and expectations. We as Construction Professionals might need to adopt a more agile, realistic and creative approach to “earning our keep”. We might not find ourselves in the seven years of bounty, but opportunities still exist, especially on the individual level. All you need to do is brave the unknown to go and find your cheese. It will no longer come to you (reference to Spencer Johnson’s “Who moved my Cheese”).

Who moved my cheese? – Better Reality Ventures

Why a professional registration and accreditation?

And this is where professional registrations and accreditations come in. Using the examples mentioned earlier, if the Attacq Group requires the services of a Construction Project Manager (‘CPM’) for one of their developments, do you think they will select the unregistered CPM above the registered CPM? Professional registrations are even more important now than ever before. You need to differentiate yourself and prove your technical and management competency. In times of scarcity this might be your only differentiator!

So, don’t fall into the trap to neglect your professional growth. Join one of our workshops and make sure your SACPCMP registration is written in black behind you name!


[1] Construction in South Africa – Key Trends and Opportunities to 2024 (Report ID 5138925)

[2] Deconstructing South Africa’s construction industry performance (https://mg.co.za/opinion/2020-10-19-deconstructing-south-africas-construction-industry-performance/ )

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