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The implementation of the Professional Development Programme (PDP)

Posted By Chris Reay, Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The global economy is on the decline and that of South Africa is suffering from both that and its own almost endemic ability to mismanage itself into a siege economy where we cannot blame outside influences. We had better get on and dig ourselves out of this hole by adopting policies that have some economic structure in place of the focus on political mandate driven ones that seem to be in the DNA of most emerging African economies.

As Engineers build the environment, and that environment will need to keep being built and maintained, we as a profession cannot contemplate that we will not be needed. It is evident that whatever the growth state of the economy is, engineering resources are always a scarce skill, and whilst one may measure numbers and deny that this is a reality, when it comes to quality, skills and experience, it holds true. Don’t be blinded by cycles, they are fact of life. Of concern however is the growing gap in the age demographics where the rate of retirement from the profession and the lack of commensurate restocking from the entrants to the profession is causing the centre of gravity of available skilled engineering resources to move into the higher end of the age spectrum.

Your Institution over the last three years has developed and beta tested the PDP, and is at a stage where it is ready to move into a productive phase by involving all the necessary players. The goal is to produce professionally registered engineering resources for the economy. SA is still well below the accepted international norms of numbers of engineering resources per head of population, a relevant number if the level of a competitive industrial economy is to be achieved. In meeting this goal, there are a number of necessary conditions (NCs) that have to be in place and all operating at their required level of performance. No goal can be achieved if one or more of those necessary conditions are not in place or working.

The PDP business case has thus identified the following NCs.

  1. An accredited competency standard under the authority of a regulator – the New Registration System (NRS) with ECSA.

  2. Candidate engineering resources – graduates from tertiary institutions that meet the various qualification accords – Washington, Sydney and Dublin.

  3. Employers – providing the workplace environment and supervision roles.

  4. Mentors – registered and trained (by SAIMechE) in the application and facilitation of the NRS.

  5. Money – to fund the training and mentoring activities required by the candidate. SETA and any other funding to pay Mentors to facilitate cells of candidates.

  6. A curriculum that provides a methods guide to the parties that becomes "the rules of the game” for all parties to follow and which facilitates the processes that meet the needs of the candidates to be able to submit the evidence to the regulatory authority to enable registration.

It therefore must be clear on evaluating the above that if any one (or more) of these is missing or does not perform, then the goal will not be met. Registration is not an end in itself. It should be seen as the recognition of the ability to meet the appropriate competencies defined in the eleven outcomes, but also to provide the successful candidate with a basis of on-going improvement to aspire to meet the challenges of the built environment.

The PDP in fact under its facilitation and guidance, provides the successful candidate with an SAIMechE Certificate of Competence that meets exactly the needs of the NRS for the ECSA submission format.

In this sense, the SAIMechE is trying to be proactive and keep the show going however the economy performs. It is now time for these parties to get in on the act.

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Michele Rivarola says...
Posted Friday, 16 October 2015
The first issue that needs to be placed into the correct context is how mentors are dealt with. I was contacted by the CBE who were in need of mentors for mechanical engineering consultants of which I have been one for the last 30 years or so. After much ado the whole effort was torpedoed by the system complete lack of any flexibility. I have been a consulting engineer for over 30 years so the last thing I need is for someone to tell me where I can stay and how I must travel. Whilst I am fully appreciative that funds are limited I have no intention of subjecting myself, at this stage of my life, to limitations which affect my so called small comforts, this said I clearly indicated that I was quite happy to pay for my own so called small luxuries (if they can really be termed such). Despite this I have never heard again from the CBE as what I proposed was outside of what was allowed. I either stayed in their pre-booked accommodation and travelled in the transport provided by them or no deal. Whilst many of us are more than happy to teach the other end of the bargain is that the recipients must be willing to learn, if not the deal also falls apart. This was also an area that was unclear. The mere fact that many of us are happy teach should be welcome and those keen to learn should make it known that it is not the lack of willing people but the lack of a willing system that is destroying the future and the aspirations of many young potential engineers.
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