Building vital engineering and construction management skills for South Africa remains a priority for leading black-owned contractor Concor, despite the challenging environment for the construction sector.


The company’s two-year Graduate Mentorship Programme – combined with its bursary scheme – continues to generate top-class professionals for the business and the broader sector, says Concor’s training manager Shannyn Karshagen.


“The interns that enter our programme this year will have all received financial support from Concor for their university studies,” says Karshagen. “In line with our transformation philosophy, these are almost all black individuals, and we have also attracted a good percentage of young women.”


She explains that many graduates from this programme have gone on to hold senior roles in the organisation, developing from positions such as site engineers to site agents and contracts managers. The disciplines in which they practice are mainly civil engineering, quantity surveying, and construction management.


“While the numbers in the programme are obviously affected by conditions in the economy and sector, Concor has prioritised the need to nurture the skills and ambitions of young South Africans,” she says. “The country’s construction industry will always be a foundation of our national development, so we must ensure a critical mass of these skills.”


This year’s cohort includes civil engineers, graduates in construction management, a mining engineer, a quantity surveyor and a land surveyor. The Concor Graduate Mentorship Programme feeds both its construction platform and its mining platform.


“Young graduates bring not only their important theoretical training to the business, but also their new ideas and fresh approaches,” she says. “This contributes to Concor’s strategic commitment to agility, which we believe is key to survival in the modern, fast-changing economic world.”


The Graduate Mentorship Programme, which has overseen the entry of almost 100 young professionals into Concor’s ranks over the past 12 years, also introduces them into the company’s Women in Leadership programme and its Future Leaders Forum.


“This focused skills development and mentoring process has become a backbone of Concor’s technical and management expertise,” says Karshagen. “The recovery in the sector that will allow us to offer more opportunities to South African youth.”


The programme begins with an intensive three-week induction in project management, leadership, and health and safety, before the interns are allocated project sites where they can apply their training with the assistance of coaches and mentors. Regular formal training during the two year period includes a course with the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), while graduates are also assisted in preparing for professional registration.


She notes that young entrants tend to embrace technology and virtual learning more easily, and this has helped graduates to withstand the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic. With university examinations and terms being extended due to Covid-19, this year’s programme has been delayed and starts formally in July.

Concor’s two year Graduate Mentorship Programme continues to produce top-class construction professionals.

The interns who enter the Concor Mentorship Programme will all have received financial support from Concor for their university studies.

Shannyn Karshagen, Concor’s training manager.