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Upcoming Changes to SAIMechE Training Activities

Tuesday, 25 September 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Anisa Nanabhay
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Over the last decade, SAIMechE‚Äôs Events Department has delivered quality training activities for engineering professionals, all offering CPD credits.  These activities generated a nett income of R2.5m to the Institution which has been used to fund other activities.  These same activities provided income of R4.1m to course developers and presenters, most of whom were SAIMechE members.  We hosted over 300 activities delivering more than 5000 delegate-days of training.  In short, we have been an effective hub for the transfer of mechanical engineering knowledge and experience, and have contributed significantly to the development of the mechanical engineering profession.

Of late, however, we have been experiencing increasing challenges in this market, which has required a fresh look at how we offer training going forward.

The depressed economy is probably the biggest influencer on training.  Historically, training is always one of the first areas to feel the effects of cost cutting, and the current experience is no different.  Although we have experienced an increase in the number of in-house events, this has not been sufficient to balance the decrease from public events.

We also have an increasing number of competitors in the training market, many of whom have nowhere near the technical credentials as SAIMechE.  Unfortunately, business generally places more value on other credentials, and we can do little about the disadvantage of our current empowerment rating. 

There is also an increasing demand for training to be delivered via online platforms in addition to traditional face-to-face activities.  The opportunities for effective learning using activities such webinars, chat rooms and online content are very attractive, and there is already a lot of material available.  However, there still is plenty of room for quality technical training, and SAIMechE is well positioned to deliver this type of content.  Creating the content is a key restraint at the moment, and we are looking at ways of empowering our members to produce attractive effective online learning.

With this as background, Council decided to make some significant changes to the way SAIMechE addresses the ongoing training of its members.  From 2019, our Events Department will cease to arrange the traditional face-to-face seminars or workshops on a national level, and these activities will be delivered by the Branches.  Branch committees will decide on topics and speakers and will arrange the activities themselves, making use of independent contractors if necessary.  In this manner, we hope to create local centres of training, using local members, and marketing to local industry.  We anticipate that branches will be able to deliver relevant training to their members at a lower cost which should make them more attractive.

At the same time, Council have decided that SAIMechE needs to place more focus on the development of our e-platform, which includes the provision of online training activities.  We have access to a sophisticated learning platform through our current web service provider, which is designed for the management of continuing professional development. As mentioned earlier, the creation of online training content is our biggest hurdle, and we have yet to fully grasp the nuances of effective online teaching.  We invite members who have something valuable to contribute to engage with us in producing good content - drop us an email should you be interested.

Our previous training model was based on using members to create and present training activities, and included a commercial framework to offer fair remuneration for presenters and a fair price for the activity.  We aim to continue with this philosophy going forward, conscious that this is not business as usual and that a total overhaul is required.  It may take a bit of time to achieve, but we are confident that this is the way forward.

Vaughan Rimbault

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