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04 April 2023

Council for the Built Environment (CBE), the regulatory body, is partnering with social impact and tertiary education non-profit organisation Feenix as part of its ‘Build a Dream’ campaign.

The NGO invests in students who need financial support to continue their studies and enter the field of the built environment, according to Feenix CEO Cara-Jean Petersen. The partnership model plays a key role in addressing two of South Africa’s biggest challenges: the cost of studying and the debt that students end up with. “When companies and organisations join hands, we can make education affordable and accessible for more students,” Petersen says.

Numbers provided by the CBE show that too many students in this field end up not graduating or completing their studies.

“Of the 60 000 students who are studying to become professionals in the built environment, only 12 000 continue to graduate,” she points out. The dropout rate, according to the CBE, is not only as a result of financial exclusion, but also because of struggles with mental health, not having access to all the resources students need and being lost to competitor industries.

“Like any other profession in the country, the built environment sector is facing serious challenges, such as the slow pace of transformation, ageing personnel, shortage of critical skills, funding gaps and high unemployment rates, especially among our youth,” says CBE CEO Dr Msizi Myeza.

“It is, therefore, important for the sector to take strides and develop strategies on how best to address crucial issues identified in the skills pipeline strategy for the built environment, especially for gender representation, youth development, participation and retention.”

“When we speak to students registered on our platform, they tell us the same story. Students are struggling with much more than just access to finances and they need all-around support to help them obtain their degree and reach upward mobility in life,” notes Petersen.

The initiative with the CBE will drive investment in and the transformation of a profession that builds the physical infrastructure everyone makes use of every day, she adds.

“The built environment profession is, without a doubt, critical to the future of our physical world, our streets, our businesses, our open spaces and parks. I encourage everyone to join and invest in our future and make an impact by funding these students,” she highlights.

“The ‘Build a Dream’ giving campaign is one of the initiatives that CBE is driving to transform the sector. We encourage youth to take advantage of this opportunity offered by CBE and Feenix. I also challenge all stakeholders in the built environment and the country to join hands and support this campaign to make this vision a reality,” Myeza says. Interested companies and potential partners can visit Feenix’s website to see students in the built environment who need financial assistance. Feenix has vetted and selected students in this field who will be featured in the campaign.

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