There is a massive need for skills development in the construction industry, particularly in the concrete industry, says cement and concrete technical services provider The Concrete Institute (TCI) MD Bryan Perrie.
“However, with relatively little work available and companies retrenching personnel, it is quite difficult for companies to justify funding for skills development,” he comments.
Perrie states that TCI tries to fill the knowledge and skills gaps with the courses it offers through its School of Concrete Technology. TCI courses include courses on the basics of concrete and specialised concrete. The institute also offers the Advanced Concrete Technology diploma, which, according to TCI, enjoys global acceptance as the leading qualification in concrete technology and is assessed by the UK-based Institute of Concrete Technology.
Another challenge is the tendency for professionals to simply “paper chase” by attending courses and then not necessarily implementing what they have been taught in concrete practice, Perrie adds.
He explains that some people want to do the courses just because they need it for a certain job or contract and “they simply want the piece of paper”. He says TCI is attempting to mitigate this issue by trying to find out what an applicant’s level of education and experience is to let him or her enrol for the appropriate course. “We advise them that it does not help to just have a piece of paper, they need to understand what they have learnt and apply that in a work situation.”
Perrie emphasises that the institute provides key services for industry through education and training. TCI has an information centre, which people can visit free of charge, which contains about 200 000 documents on all aspects of concrete; the institute also publishes a range of books about concrete and its applications.
Moreover, TCI offers a free advisory service for general concrete technology queries, as well as a consultancy service (which it charges for) focused on concrete and related issues, including on-site investigation, troubleshooting and reporting. TCI’s technical team is available for consultation on construction sites anywhere in Southern Africa.
“We are also involved with the South African Bureau of Standards to ensure that all concrete-related standards and specifications are kept up to date and don’t disadvantage concrete in any way,” he adds.
Further, he points out that, currently, there are discussions around consolidating five industry bodies – TCI, nonprofit organisation the Concrete Society of Southern Africa (CSSA), precast concrete industry representative Concrete Manufacturers Association (CMA), national body the Southern Africa Ready-Mix Association (Sarma) and industry body the Association of Cementitious Materials Producers – into one body. “We have talked about it for the past year, but it is starting to gain traction now; we are investigating our options but it is still in the early stages.”
Presentations and Publications
TCI will attend the Totally Concrete Expo taking place on May 16 and 17 at the Gallagher Convention Centre, in Johannesburg.
TCI will present two workshops – Concrete Durability 101, a basic introduction to all aspects of all concrete durability, on May 16; and Concrete Industrial Floors, a workshop about typical problems associated with concrete industrial floors and ways to avoid them, the following day.
The CSSA, CMA and Sarma will also present workshops over the two days.
Further, TCI will publish the tenth edition of Fulton’s Concrete Technology in the second quarter of 2019. Many standards, specifications and test methods in the industry have changed since the last edition and these will be incorporated in the new edition.
This edition will be edited by nongovernmental scientific association The International Union of Laboratories and Experts in Construction Materials, Systems and Structures immediate past president and retired University of Cape Town professor Mark Alexander, who is a recognised global expert in concrete technology.