Good construction should not only answer an immediate need, but should survive the test of time, standing strong so it can serve future generations even as their needs vary. If this is the aim of construction, then it should also be the aim of the groups and associations that support it; to create an industry that is not only successful today, but one that will continue to prosper on solid foundations.
South Africa knows the importance of such groups; following the National Development Plan, a government initiative to boost commercial progress in the country through new policies and the commitment of hundreds of billions of rand, many such organizations arose to support and co-ordinate the growing swell of activity. As companies ambitiously surged towards the future, having solid teams to turn to for assistance and advice became increasingly necessary. Out of the associations that formed, the Constructional Engineering Association (South Africa) stands out as an example of excellence.
The Constructional Engineering Association (South Africa) (CEA) provides specialist employer support for companies operating in the construction engineering sector, including work in the structural, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation, piping and project management fields. They represent the needs and interests of employers and employees alike within these sectors, supported by over 80 impressive years of experience and service. This long history has allowed CEA to form priceless connections and relationships with companies and figures at all levels of the industry, including close ties with the SA Institute of Steel Construction and the SA Institute of Welding. These bonds mean that every member who joins CEA isn’t just joining an association – they are joining a priceless network and closely-knit industrial family.
CEA are far from alone in South Africa – in fact, they are one of 27 independent employer associations that have formed together to work in cooperation, rather than competition, with each other. Each association covers a different sector within the construction industry, together forming the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (SEIFSA). It would have been easy for these associations to compete with each other, but CEA, along with their partners under SEIFSA, are committed to acting in the best interest of their members and recognise that cooperation and the free movement of information between groups is the only way to make sure their members get exactly what they need.
CEA was founded in 1936, known then as the Transvaal Structural Engineering Association. It was changed its name to the Constructional Engineering Association, and finally, to the Constructional Engineering Association (South Africa) in 1986. Later, the CEA formed two separate divisions that would operate under its umbrella – the Labour Broking Division (LBD) and the Temporary Employment Services Division (TESD).
The LBD was established in 1994 by members who felt workers in CEA’s branch of the construction sector needed a platform upon which they could have a voice. This body of people would prioritise efforts to work on behalf of the workers they represented, speaking on the behalf of workers to clients, contractors, bargaining councils, trade unions and the like. They also aimed to improve public image of the construction industry through this legitimacy, to counter contemporary suspicions that the whole sector was operating just outside of the law. This branch of CEA has achieved no end of good for the construction sector since it was formed, including easy access to tax legislation information, and the creation of a life-changing code of ethics to protect clients and workers alike.
Working beside the LBD, the TESD, founded in 2003, serves as an agency to provide white-collar workers with employment, and companies in need with the personnel they require, including draughtsmen, engineers, project managers and technicians. This role became essential when the country moved to working exclusively with temporary construction employment contracts. No longer able to hire permanent team members, companies now rely on services such as TESD to keep them always supplied with the appropriate staff.
Between CEA and the other 26 such agencies working within SEIFSA, South Africa’s growing and shifting construction industry has a solid support system that not only helps companies to operate at maximum efficiency but protects clients and employees from unsafe or illegal practices, as well as protecting employers from stepping outside of the law by mistake! Providing training and information that is easily accessible, CEA gives employers the tools they need to make better, safer and more responsible choices, and to keep up with the industry’s ever-changing rules and regulations. The effect is an industry that communicates, cooperates, and can flourish in prosperity and integrity, with all involved parties confident that if they need it, their voice will be heard.
No association can be considered a success if companies aren’t pursuing membership, and by this measure, CEA’s reputation within its field is clear. Their member listing is not only extensive but serves as a veritable who’s who of the South African construction sector. The CEA letters, in association with your company, serve as certification of lawful, top-quality operations. Not just anyone can join – your company must meet CEA’s standards to be included, making membership not only a valuable source of support, but also a badge of honour.