The 2011 Process Expo was a huge success with the highest number of visitors and outstanding quality on offer. It was the first show the SAIMC attended in a very long time, but it will most definitely not be the last. Planning for the next show in 2013 has already started, based on lessons learnt from 2011.
What is the purpose of the SAIMC?
Many people asked us this question when they visited our stand at Nasrec. In a nutshell I can put it like this:
* Our Patron members look after their businesses.
* Unions look after their members.
* The SAIMC looks after the industry.
Of course it is never as easy as a three line summary, but this is a good start. A case in point was when government, in 2008, wanted to push through a law to nationalise ECSA, thereby nullifying the different accords it had signed on behalf of all professionals in South Africa. The SAIMC was one of the institutions that not only gave feedback to ECSA and to government, but also spread the news to the Washington and other accords resulting in some serious warnings regarding this nationalisation.
Addressing the youth
Recently, the SAIMC embarked on a programme to bring youngsters into contact with our discipline. For 2011 and 2012 we have joined forces with the First Lego League, the (uncompleted) trailer was showcased at Process Expo and it looked good. Many thanks to Johan van Jaarsveldt who did a fantastic job at short notice with help from Johannes de Vries of First Lego League. The logos of our Patron members, who have joined forces with us on this project, appear on the trailer and First Lego League has donated 10 kits worth R8000 each.
Changing tertiary education (again)
Technikons and the Universities of Technology (with the assistance of I do not know who) seem to enjoy confusing the industry. There was S3, S4, NTS, National Diploma, T4, B. Tech and now it is changing again. I am not sure whether the latest change is going to be good for our industry and would like people who have been through the mill with these qualifications to give us their comments.
Change often brings fears that are mostly unfounded. It might be the same in this case, but there are questions that we need to answer for ourselves to ensure that we are doing the right things right the first time. This is the purpose of the paragraph – Are we happy with the proposed changes or will we decide after they have been implemented?
The graph (Figure 1) was developed by Suresh Ramsuroop – DUT chemical engineering:
* The blue indicates the engineering degree with 560 credits.
* The pink indicates the new direction that the Universities of Technology may be taking with 420 credits.
* The green represents the current system of six months study and six months practical work.
* The orange indicates the current Technician studies.
It seems as if the Universities of Technology are favouring the pink ie, 420 credits with more maths and science – always a good thing. However, if this happens, will they still be offering the green (six months study and six months work)? If not, is this serious to our industry? We have concerns about people graduating from tertiary institutions with hardly any practical experience as it is.
Then it seems as if the Universities of Technology are trying to create a 140 credit session to bring their students in line with that of the universities. I seriously hope that this is not the case, because then it would make more sense to split the university degree into two portions of three years and one year and totally get rid of the Universities of Technology – which will be even worse for our industry.
We need to look at this carefully and I would encourage industry to get involved before things change for the worse. We are not a country that can afford mistakes with our education system and cannot afford to train people for three or four years and then find out this is not what industry had in mind.
Thank you to everybody who made Process Expo 2011 such a great success! Special thanks to élan Communications which gave the SAIMC its stand and did such sterling work of organising – it compared with the best the world has to offer. I would also like to thank the members of the IIG who played such a part in presenting our industry to the public. This was truly an event that made us all proud.
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