In an exciting new initiative, the SAIMC is engaging with the Intsimbi Future Production Technologies Initiative (IFPTI) in a drive aimed at changing the face of automation in South Africa. At a high level workshop attended by representatives from the DTI, the European Union, the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Deloitte Consulting, industry leaders, tertiary institutions and SAIMC council members, speakers laid out how South Africa is responding to the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) through IFPTI and its implementing agency, the National Technologies Implementation Platform (NTIP). IFPTI is a partnership between government and industry through the Production Technologies Association of South Africa (PtSA). The goal was to discuss the scaling of this highly successful programme and how to bring resources to the table to add capacity and take it to the next level.
SAIMC vice president, Pregs Naidoo, set the scene by highlighting the SAIMC’s Vision 2025 and its three major projects – education and training, growth, and thought leadership in automation – and its considerable achievements in these areas. This was followed by incumbent president, Annamarie van Coller’s presentation about the many challenges facing South Africa in educating and training automation professionals.
Response to the decline in manufacturing
According to a recent Accenture report, the disruptive technical environment created by 4IR will place one in three jobs in South Africa at risk – a total of 5,7 million jobs.
DTI chief director, Ilse Karg, said that government is concerned about the decline in the manufacturing sector and has responded by creating the Future Industrial Production & Technologies (FIP&T) unit, within its Industrial Development division, to look at the future of manufacturing and develop a policy and strategy to confront the challenges of the disruptive technologies that are part of 4IR. “We have a mandate to work in partnership with industry to build industrial capability. Industry is the driving force behind this programme, but with the full support of government – from the DTI right up to the presidency at cabinet level,” she added. “Our flagship project is the IFPTI initiative. The two elements are skills and enterprise development, and we see this as an extremely important programme to build skills capacity for the manufacturing sector. We have put significant funding towards it and are actively looking at additional sources so that we can upscale the project further.”
The Intsimbi model has succeeded in creating highly innovative industry-driven solutions that can be sustainably expanded. Dirk van Dyk is the CEO of NTIP and has been running the programme successfully for over a decade. Developed for the tooling and machining industry, it was relaunched in June 2018 to reflect its rising importance and potential for expansion. He said that NTIP is a private non-profit company and its job is to create a free technical education system for the future. It provides a platform for industry to develop enterprise competitiveness and technical skills development programmes. It focuses on capacity building through skills supply and enterprise development solutions combined with innovative funding partnerships.
Van Dyk added that the highly successful NTIP model uses a system design and solution approach. NTIP now has seven facilities countrywide equipped with the best technology money can buy. To date 2198 learners have enrolled, 98% from a previously disadvantaged background. “We work in clusters through colleges, centres of excellence, international partners, industry and assessment centres,” he explained. “We produce results not paper. We have developed a whole range of stackable qualifications aligned with SAQA, all the way up to a Masters in Tooling Engineering at NQF9.”
Funding is the limiting factor and there is now a need to unlock sources that are not optimally deployed in order to upscale the project. The crux is the development of a new national partnership funding model for technical skills development for advanced manufacturing. Fredré Meiring of Deloitte Consulting and Frans Nortje of Ingenious Evolution Fund Managers added their thoughts on possible funding models. Their advice was to look at trust fund structures to help companies unlock funding capacity.
This was followed by a thought provoking Q&A session elaborating on all the issues. The big question was how the SAIMC could get involved by adding its voice, resources and support.
“We have widespread recognition locally and internationally and have proved that it can be done,” concluded van Dyk. “The programme has succeeded in creating highly innovative industry driven solutions that are sustainable and will position South Africa’s advanced manufacturing sector for 4IR, which is transforming the global manufacturing landscape.”
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