SANRAL has fully taken on board the late Nelson Mandela's view that "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world". The agency lives by it.

We provide scholarships to high school learners who show aptitude for maths, science and English. Our objective is to ensure that there is a pipeline of fresh talent for the engineering and construction industries.

The agency invested R4.3m in scholarships last year and there were 194 recipients from schools right across the country. Of these, 55 were in matric and 80% of them did well enough to enter degree-level studies at tertiary institutions.

While SANRAL supports its employees academically, it also has an external bursary programme, which supported 133 students in the last financial year, of whom 13 were postgraduates ranging from Honour's to PhD level.

The focus of our bursary programme is civil engineering and related professions in the built environment, as well as smart technology. The goal is not only to nurture talent for SANRAL's own recruitment needs, but to contribute to narrowing the skills gap in South Africa.

Getting through school, into university and then making it through the tertiary programme is only the beginning.

Getting the requisite experience is often a hurdle our qualifying youth must leap. To overcome it, the agency facilitates work experience placements at contractors and consultants working on SANRAL projects.

We managed to assist 304 interns last year and hope to continue this worthy contribution to youth employment.

For its own people, SANRAL runs the Technical Excellence Academy (TEA) in Port Elizabeth, which offers a structured training programme with the aim of equipping graduate engineers with the necessary competencies to register in one of the engineering professions governed by the Engineering Council of South Africa.

In addition, we promote a deeper understanding of maths and science through programmes run in conjunction with Nelson Mandela Bay University and the University of the Free State. SANRAL also sponsors a Chair in Pavement Engineering at Stellenbosch University and another in Transport Engineering at the University of Cape Town.

With our academic partners and steadfast commitment to tackling our country's future needs, SANRAL is doing more than its part to break down the vicious cycle of youth unemployment. As Mandela said, education is a powerful weapon.