Competency-based training institute Polytech Africa and industrial switchgear and automation management supplier ElectroMechanica (EM) launched the Mechatronics Academy, at the EM head office, in Johannesburg, last month.
The venture is a collaborative benchmark for the South African education sector and aims to offer hands-on job experience in a training environment.
The academy – thought to be the first educational institute of its kind in South Africa, with accreditation from the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA) – will help merge business and academia in the development of critical skills necessary to allow for the integration of Industry 4.0 in South Africa.
During the launch, EM director Andrew Nobbs outlined the critical need for an institution of this sort to help the youth familiarise themselves with the technology before entering the workplace: “The academy gives learners a skills-based education to prepare trainees for the workplace of the future.”
Polytech Africa founding director Astrid Straussner added that Industry 4.0 was here to stay. “Whether we like it or not, we need to get on this train and get moving.”
For over three years, Straussner worked with merSETA and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) to lay out and formalise the curriculum, which qualifies the student under a National Qualifications Framework Level 2 learnership. This is based on precision mechanical engineering, electronics and computer design systems used to control and automate mechanical products using electrical signals.
DHET artisan development chief director David Mabusela, who also attended the launch, said the initiative responded to the call that was made by the department for technological innovation and information technology to have “a more expanded space within the education and training environment”.
Mabusela assured the support of the DHET and concurred with Nobbs on the dire need for facilities of this sort.