The Society for Automation, Instru- mentation, Measurement and Control (SAIMC) has reiterated its commitment to providing training and improving skills development within industry.
SAIMC president Johan Maartens says the industry body plans to provide further training and certification guidance for the temperature, pressure, flow and process control industry.
In March, he told Engineering News that the instrumentation and control industry was struggling, owing to a lack of practical skills, and that the body was investigating the creation of an umbrella training or certification programme.
“We see people coming out of training institutions with theoretical knowledge but no practical experience, or people being appointed as engineers, technologists and technicians without the required training and experience. There are too few qualified people in the industry at large,” he says.
The solution, he says, lies in an integrated approach rather than a list of actions.
“First, we must get the youth interested in the discipline of engineering. Secondly, it is important to standardise the naming of conventions within the industry, as this will enable employees, employers and training institutions to identify the training requirements, skills requirements, capabilities and remuneration attached to each position,” he explains.
To get the youth involved in engineering, the industry body is currently involved in the First Lego League (FLL) initiative, a partnership with toy company Lego and the For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or First, organisation, which aims to inspire students to take an interest in engineering and technology.
The FLL initiative encourages young people between the ages of 6 and 18 to pursue potential career paths in scientific and technological fields while completing a range of challenges directed at encouraging their interest in the sciences and building a technically based foundation.
The SAIMC built a First Lego trailer that can host up to ten First Lego sets. This trailer was handed over to the FLL coordinator for South Africa, Johannes de Vries, on March 30.
“We also have other programmes in the pipeline to get the youth involved in engineering, like competitions for older children and bursaries,” adds Maartens.
Further, the SAIMC has developed a website for people interested in the temperature, pressure, flow and process control industry so they can learn from one another, while simultaneously growing the industry.
“We have also certified some training courses for continuing professional development purposes for those regis- tered with the Engineering Council of South Africa.
“We are investigating the training and skills requirements within the industry and will be defining certifications within the industry this year,” states Maartens.
He comments that the SAIMC aims to look after the industry, while employers focus on growing their businesses and trade unions focus on the interests of employees.
Its role includes making changes to, and defining, standards as well as ensuring that legal requirements are met and promoting the further education of its members.
Last year, the SAIMC joined the Auto- mation Federation, a global association of member organisations that drives awareness and growth within the automation industry. This gives the SAIMC access to global best practice through the federation’s standards.
“Included in these standards are the job descriptions that could be used to standardise the profession as far as skills and knowledge are concerned,” says Maartens.
Through these efforts, it expects to improve the accuracy, dependability and safety of equipment used in the industry.
Maartens believes the use of bus systems with industry equipment is growing.
“There have been giant steps taken in the use of bus systems, enabling information to be transmitted over a single pair of wires or a radio link. This eliminates the need to hard-wire each measuring point or piece of equipment to its host,” he explains.