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The case for free-lance, paid Mentors

Posted By Chris Reay, Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The new outcomes based registration system for Engineers is now underway albeit that ECSA has not yet developed the online system for the capture of the submission data. The release of the systems for Technologists, Technicians and Certificated Engineers is in progress.

SAIMechE, under its Professional Development Programme (PDP), has finalised the development of the training curriculum for each of the eleven outcomes, the submission capture formats and the introduction to the complete programme and the training programme for Mentors who play a necessary, regular and specified role in the process. The PDP has been developed using the exact outcome and assessment criteria for registration as those formulated by ECSA under the R02 model. SAIMechE will facilitate the Candidate's training programme by the provision of the documentation that guides the Candidate on the requirements for each outcome and the coordination of the activities via a monthly Mentor facilitated workshop per Candidate cell.

We call this the regular procedure that is intended to be applied to facilitate the training programme for professional development for members of SAIMechE. This process will result in the issue of an SAIMechE Certificate of Competence that will enable any holder thereof to use the same content to apply for ECSA registration.

A necessary condition for the process to work is the structured involvement of the Mentor, and it is here that, for the PDP to have its intended industry wide effect, the role of the "independent" Mentor is required. Currently, and under the legacy training system, the employer provides Mentors from its own employ that provide the service to its own employed Candidate Engineers. This generally limits the availability of mentoring in the case of smaller businesses that may not have the capacity to employ persons who can act as Mentors. The role of the Mentor in the legacy system is generally much less involved than that required for the new system. Thus the PDP is, in conjunction with the other VAs, ECSA and the "scarce skills" forums, striving to obtain formal and substantial funding for free-lance Mentors to undertake the mentoring role as a revenue earning activity.

Accordingly, SAIMechE is inviting its members to consider applying for the role of Mentor for the PDP. The role will be defined in the Mentor training programme. This includes the review of all the PDP curriculum material, the workshop process, guidelines on the forming of candidate cells for ease of access and meetings, referee roles, sign-off documentation, remuneration and administration functions. The referee or sign-off process must finally be done by a Mentor who is a Pr Eng.

Ideally the business model would encourage a Mentor to seek and oversee up to six candidates in a cell who would all attend a one day workshop per month. Each workshop addresses one of the eleven outcomes in turn, thus making eleven workshops per annum per cell. Depending on the number of candidates available to an area, a Mentor could select to practice mentoring full time for as many days of the week he or she chooses. Thus the income potential is attractive.

This is a bold move forward to stimulate the level of professionalism in the industry and to utilise the valuable experience of the Mentor. The question remains, can we find sufficient Mentors?

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