A major challenge facing the nondestructive testing (NDT) sector is that companies require NDT personnel who are certified, says technical solutions specialist African NDT Centre Level 3 consulting manager Abdur-Rahman Mahomed.
However, to acquire certification, technicians must meet certain criteria, which includes experience, in terms of hours accumulated, which, he notes, are becoming more challenging to come by.
“Essentially, candidates cannot gain experience without employment and employers cannot allocate wages or salaries to a person who is not certified, as the employer cannot ‘sell’ this person’s labour.”
He states that this conundrum is further compounded primarily by two issues, the first being related to resources. The few employers who do take in personnel and assist them in gaining experience are required to provide the correct personal protective equipment, safety training, medicals and workman’s compensation cover. These costs may sometimes be recovered only several months later.
Secondly, technicians are changing employers frequently in the current market, which has resulted in “NDT companies’ not wanting to ‘burn their fingers’ by investing time in trainees by developing and honing their skills, sharing company-specific tips and tricks, only to have them leave at the next available opportunity”, Mahomed explains.
He comments that this is not always the case, but that it has happened often enough for companies in general to be wary or steer clear of taking in trainees in some instances.
However, there are alternatives for candidates to gain experience, such as enrolling at experiential learning provider Kuzizwa Centre, which was established in 2015 to provide a combination of NDT action, cooperative and experiential learning for NDT course-qualified technicians.