Ubuntu in the Engineering Workplace: Paying it forward through Mentoring
Keywords:Ubuntu, social responsibility, engineers, mentorship, humanity, skills
Research reveals that South Africa is facing a critical skills shortage. Companies are struggling to source engineering professionals for their ongoing operational success. In order to retain critical engineering skills, young engineers should be provided with inspirational mentorship. Despite South Africa’s move to a democracy, its workplace is still mired by social inequalities. Organisations aiming to harness diversity should create a culture of respect and accessibility so that all employees can reach their full potential. While many studies focus on the importance of mentorship, little has been said about the value of Ubuntu in mentor-mentee relationships. The paper argues that for an inclusive workplace, the answer lies in Ubuntu. By practising Ubuntu, mentor engineers can contribute to the direly needed professional development of young engineers. Ubuntu is an African philosophy which acknowledges that one’s own humanity is interlinked with the dignity and humanity of others. Ubuntu is forgoing one’s personal interests for the benefit of people around you, while growing together as a community. The study aimed to establish that instead of looking at individualistic solutions, we should embrace mutual growth and empowerment. The author used questionnaires with closed and open-ended questions to collect data. Fifty engineering professionals in different fields and from different cities in South Africa participated in this case study. The data were analysed inductively as well as deductively. Mentorship was identified as an important aspect of Ubuntu. It was recommended that engineers practise Ubuntu in their workplace to cultivate an ethos of community and mutual respect.
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