With continuous improvements in technology, there is a need for concurrent upskilling across all sectors, especially as the reality of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has set in locally.
As such, electrical switchgear supplier ElectroMechanica (EM) collaborated with startup consultancy Polytech Africa in establishing the Mechatronics Academy. This ‘first-of-its-kind’ collaboration was officially launched in 2019.
Polytech Africa MD Astrid Straussner tells Engineering News that, based on South
Africa’s current education and training environment, “we are not 100% ready for the 4IR and we do need a different approach; thus, the academy is a great start”.
The Mechatronics Academy – which focuses on the National Qualifications
Framework (NQF) Level 2 learnership – is accredited by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority.
The academy’s focus is the essential aspects of precision mechanical engineering, electronics, and computer design systems used to control and automate mechanical products with electrical signals.
Upon completion of the NQF Level 2 qualification, certificate holders will be able to gain entry to highly skilled sectors such as mechanical and electrical engineering, pneumatics and hydraulics, robotics, programmable logic control, computer numeric control, industrial information technology, automotive and precision welding.
“While 4IR should be a big driver, we still need the basics. I do not believe that we need to necessarily change the syllabus. We just need to tweak our current system to align with current trends and map the way forward. The traditional education system is still important, although it needs to adopt new ways of delivering its content,” she says.
Straussner notes that educational institutions cannot be islands on their own and require the cooperation of government and the private sector. This is why the company’s active involvement is so “crucial”, as it is important that students are exposed to the latest products and developments, she adds.