Education and Training


Education and Training has been drifting away from each other due to various reasons. The SAIMC plans to close this gap whatever it takes including participating in a world - wide effort by the Automation Federation to establish an Automation discipline.

Education has been producing high calibre graduates for many years. What has changed?

A coupe of things have changed:

1.  The IRR reports in their “The South African Education Crisis” of May 2018: 

“In 2015, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) released a report ranking the education systems of 76 countries from around the world. The rankings were determined by examining how well students did in maths and science tests. South Africa performed dismally – of the 76 countries studied, the OECD said that the country [South Africa] had the 75th worst education system. The only country that performed worse was Ghana”.

2. Industry no longer has the luxury of training the new graduates in their factories. Production has become more and more effective and efficient, equipment has become more specialised, competition has become fierce and profit margins have decreased. It is no longer possible to put a trainee on the production line.. Years ago it was not unusual to see two technicians on a job – a qualified technician and a trainee. This is no longer possible.

3.  The products produced by education (graduates) has learnt “the basics” (some say “learnt how to learn”). That is true, but industry expects graduates to also be knowledgable and experienced in the technical equipment while they are quite willing to teach the graduates the industry. Industry can no longer teach them how to use the technical equipment, they should already know that.

4. Many educators have very little or no experience of industry while others were in industry many years ago and the technology they are familiar with is no longer applicable so they revert to “teachning the basics” – stuff that can be found on Youtube or Google.

5.  Industry have withdrawn from education for various reasons, leaving education to fend for themselves. They do not have the latest technology available for practicals and the educators do not know how to use this latest technology.

Technology has changed so fast that the academic institutions were not able to keep up – both in knowledge and in facilities. 

It is true that the post – graduate part of the academic institutions are creating sophisticated mathematical models and theories that are used by industry in the development of new strategies and equipment, but most of the patents and innovations are now coming from industry, creating new revenue streams every year.

The netto effect is that the basic education has become so inefficient that many major industry players have resorted to developing their own education facilities. The worst of all is that education is so bogged down with policies and procedures that they are not able to cater for the fast changed industry requirements.

Of course there are exceptions.

A good example is the students that participate in challenges like the solar powered vehicles and other competitions. Those students have picked up the skills on how, where and when to use the equipment and not only that they exist. They are assisted by educators who have not lost their passion to stay on top of the latest technology trends. 

Other examples are education institutions that experiment with the latest technologies assisted by industry. These are institutions that experiement with additive manufacturing, creating synthetic limbs for people, modifying motorcycles for use by people who have lost a limb, creating new models for wind turbines, automatic tool trays, coffee bean rosters etc. These are examples of what can happen if educators and industry work together. These activities needs to form part of the basic education and not left to a handful of students that volunteer their services.  

Unfortunately exceptions cannot bring a country to embrace the latest industry revolutions..

One educator said:  “We are battling to create new courses due to the fact that a CESM code first has to be created for the course”. The regulators of education have become their own worst enemy.

For many years industry has supported education institutions by creating discipline specific chairs etc. 

What has changed?

1.  Technical development is left to the company’s research and development departments and everybody else must consentrate on EBIT and market share.

2.  “Politics” have become the new reality. Doing things because it is the right thing to do is replaced with doing things for the right “political reasons”.

3. Non – technical managers are interfering in the technical decisions of their technical teams

Pressure to have the biggest market share and increasing their EBIT has taken centre stage in an industry that has largely placed their future in the hands of non – technical managers. Technology has been handed over to their laboratories and from there to their marketing departments. 

Many international companies today have concentrated their development at their head quarters. “Satelite companies” are only required to maximise EBIT and market share. When you enter a board meeting, you will hardly ever hear them talk about how they can improve their technologies and solutions, how they can solve customer problems with their or other technologies. They concentrate on the effectiveness of their staff to push their technologies down to their customers so that they can reach their targets. Technology discussions are not for board meetings – that is for the individual technical departments to sort out because the boards no longer have board members that understands the technology and / or the requirements of their customers. Those that have the knowledge are often overriden by “don’t show me the pains, show me the baby” attitude of their fellow board members.

To make matters worse, when these technical staff does make decisions, these are often overridden for “political reasons”.

Of course, like always, there are exceptions. There are those MD’s and CEO’s that have ensured that their board consists of technical experts in departments like IT (not represented by their CFO’s who often have very little grasp on the fast changing world of IT) and their various technical departments and not a representative of all departments who only has to report on sales figures.

When requested by educational institutions to join their advisory meetings, industry often send their HR representative who has even less knowledge of the actuall skills and expertise required apart from what is written down in a job description that has very little bearing on the actual expertise required by the department. 

This attitude has divorsed industry and education and now the country is suffering the consequences. And this is not a unique South African problem. Our governments interference has as long as I can remember been giving instructions to industry on how to run their business although they themselves are often the worst run institution of them all. This is despite the fact that they have staff that are experts in their field. People who are elected because of their popularity now suddenly have all the wisdom in the world on how to run a business – and once again, this is not unique to South Africa.

Industry can no longer take a back seat in education. They need to get their technical experts to the advisory committees and give the education institutions the train-the-trainer courses as well as the equipment they need for the graduates to be experts in these latest technologies when they enter industry. Industry needs to tell education exactly what they want from the education facilities and assist in providing the means to get these graduates.

Education and Training is the first of three strategic actions that the SAIMC has identified during their Strategy Session in March 2018.


1. Registered automation qualifications
2. Established partnership with end users to assist in recruitment and talent identification
3. Enable 100 Bursaries
4. Creating content for technology evenings. Vendor independent
5. Create a operational training program for Automation
6. Have a positive impact at schools and universities

You are welcome to participate in the discussions on  LinkedIn

Dear SAIMC stakeholders

I would like to give you exciting feedback regarding the progress of SAIMC’s involvement in the NTIP / IFPTI initiative

We (Annemarie van Coller, Vinesh Maharaj, Marc Van Pelt and Johan Maartens) attended a meeting in Cape Town on the 14th of June ,where the Minister of Trade and Industry , Dr Rob Davies officially launched the new “INSIMBI Future Production Technologies Initiative” program

The model that will be followed by the FTPI going forward is based on the model used by the tooling industry (the NTPI) that has been proven effective to train individuals while maintaining quality.

As the SAIMC we will continually be involved in discussions driving progress to ensure that the education model suites what industry needs.

The initiative will be a collaboration between the DTI(department of trade and industry), Intsimbi (Instsimbi future production technologies initiative), NTIP (National Technologies Implementation Platform and Industry

From the SAIMC we will continually participate to ensure that we are the leading voice for Factory – and Process Automation in this initiative to ensure that industry is represented effectively and that our requirements are addressed.    Johan Maartens ( leader of the SAIMC strategic training initiative and COO) and Marc Van Pelt (Project Manager for the Industry 4.0 strategic initiative and chairman of the IIG) will be actively involved to ensure that we enable all our stakeholders to achieve excellence.

Once Council and IFPTI have signed the MoU we will share it to ensure all stakeholder are aligned going forward

Annemarie van Coller

  1. Determine industry requirements
  2. How does that compare with current curriculum
  3. Identify the delta
  4. Develop a curriculum that satisfies the needs of industry in incremental certification format acceptable to industry
  5. Ensure that the new curriculum allows participant to move between certifications and industry to satisfy the needs of industry

The SAIMC has been discussing a possible Automation curriculum for Factory Automation and the Process Industry for a while now with various institutions – with little success.

In our search for a solution to the current education system that does not satisfying the needs of industry, we came across the Tool and Die industry which had similar issues than we have now. They have been working with the Department of Trade and Industry for a couple of perfect an education system that seems to be 100% suitable for Automation.

The SAIMC is now negotiating with NTIP to work on an education and training system for Automation personnel on the same basis, but there are some work to be done, not the least of clarifying how companies can support this training initiative via a self-managed Trust Fund and still get B-BBEE points.

 “The launch of the new programme includes the renaming and rebranding of the previous National Tooling Initiative Programme (NTIP) programme. The key oversight body will remain the Intsimbi Board and the implementation agency NTIP. NTIP will no longer be the National Tooling Initiative Programme but will be named the National Technologies Implementation Platform (NTIP), the same acronym because of its international standing”, said DTI minister Davies during the launch in Cape Town.

Also see – Changing the Face of Automation

The program has the following characteristics:

  • The curriculum is not dependent on the normal education qualifications but rather on knwledge and skills as required by industry. It is therefore of the utmost importance that industry gets involved in the program to sepcify their requirements. 
  • The training will provide the students with certificates that indicates which level required by industry they have mastered. By mastering is meant that although they might not know the production process, they have a clear understanding, knowledge and experience in the automation technologies they have been trained in. This includes the working, installation and maintenance at the lower certicate level up to designing and optimising the automation technology at the advanced level.
  • When they apply for a position, that company will only have to educate them in the factory – specific process as they will already know and undertand the automation technology applied.
  • It is of course important that the student be able to obtain a certificate, diploma or degree according to the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) should they so desire. Althoughh this is a secondary aim of the development of the student, it will also be considered during the development of the program.
  • It is also important that the student be able to qualify for an international qualifiation should they so desire. The ail is to make use of the qualifications available through the International Society of Automation (ISA) as well as the Automation Competency Model of the Automation Federation.
  • Students may leave the system at any time should they feel they have achieved the level of expertise required to persue their passion, They are also able to return to continue their education and training should they so desire.
  • Although all attempts will be made to make use of current education institutions, this will not be the linmiting factor of this education system. Various training centres across South Africa has already been established for the tool and die industry. These centres can easily be “upgraded” to cater for Automation as well.
  • Talking about current Education Institutions: During our investigations it was found that Automation courses (the theory at least) was found in various curriculums, i.e. parts were in Electrical, others in Chemical, IT, Industrial Engineering etc. Should current education institutions desire to join the program, they will ony need to reshuffle some courses, obtain the latest technology and train-the-trainer education. Although the practical laboratories will have to be upgraded substantially, very few additional course material will need to be developed. 
  • Where professional registration is required, the SAIMC will commit to provide the necessary guidance to those individuals so that they are able to register with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)

Trust Funds have been established in existing education and training initiatives of NTIP to fund bursaries, equipment etc. in developing expertise for the national tool and die industry. Companies contribute to these trust funds and use the funds to suppkly education institutions with equipment, trainthe-trainer initiatives, bursaries for the students and to fund start-up businesses of the students.

Interest obtained from businesses funded in this way contribute to the training and education of other students. Should the business want to buy-out their share from the program, the money obtained during this transaction is also channeled back to the education system.

It is upon this backbone that the SAIMC wll build an education and training platform for Factory – and Process Automation.

The SAIMC plans to create such a Trust Fund for their Patron Members. The patron members will be able to appoint Trustees to this fund. This fund is used on the 20 – 80% principle to educate and train students where-after they are either placed in companies or assisted to establish their own business and hence creating the source of B-BBEE points as well as competent employees and effective and efficient businesses.

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