The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA) has highlighted a decline in familiarity with timber as a building material among graduates of local tertiary level engineering programmes, which boasts serious implications for the timber industry.

Exposing professionals to timber construction on equal footing with other construction materials during their studies and beyond is critical, notes ITC-SA general manager Amanda Obbes. Credit: Creative Commons

As the SAQA-accredited professional body for the engineered timber construction industry, the ITC-SA is calling on training providers in this field to review their curricula for a more holistic offering that embraces timber as a standard construction material.

While timber frame construction makes up a small, but growing, percentage of new builds in South Africa, timber is widely used for roof trusses, from domestic to commercial applications across the country.

“With the high-volume usage of timber in roof trusses for a range of roofing applications, it is essential that all participants in the value chain are well equipped to ensure that timber roof trusses adhere to regulations, from design to certification,” says Amanda Obbes, ITC-SA general manager.

She continues, “The engineer has a pivotal role to play in ensuring the safety of the occupants of a structure, not just during the design, fabrication and erection of the roof trusses, but they essentially have the final say on whether or not a structure is fit for habitation.

This makes it essential for the engineer to have proper exposure to timber and its design capabilities as a construction material and is the reason the ITC-SA is calling on universities and colleges to extend to timber its due in their engineering courses and degree programmes.”

According to Obbes, “Exposing professionals and industry specifiers to timber construction on equal footing with other construction materials during their studies and beyond is critical, not only for the timber industry to thrive, but for multiple trades to be able to work in complement with one another for the best possible outcome.

“Without the necessary skills in the timber sector, this vision has little chance of being fully realised. This is why the institute has implemented a host of courses that can boost the professional’s knowledge of timber, not only for personal development, but for the value that this brings to their workplace and the industry at large.”

The ITC-SA welcomes feedback and suggestions from students, professionals and other institutions in South Africa on the role that timber construction plays in tertiary education courses and programmes. Please forward your comments, suggestions or collaboration proposals to