The South African Valve and Actuator Manufacturers Association’s (Savama’s) valves training courses are poised for increased enrolments this year through a renewed effort to raise awareness.
Savama has three online correspondence courses available, all of which initially were accredited by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (Merseta), with National Qualification Framework levels of four and five.
However, these courses are no longer registered with Merseta owing to the South African Qualifications Authority criterion for accreditation, which now requires threefold coverage with every course, namely practical, workplace and theory coverage. Savama’s valve training courses are theory-based and online only.
The courses include the original intermediate working with valves course, which was introduced in 2004; the advanced control valves course, which was added in 2008 and the entry-level basic valves course, which was added in 2017.
At the start of this year, 41 candidates had registered for the valves training courses, with most of the candidates registering for all three courses.
Currently, the majority of the candidates are sponsored by their employers.
However, Savama training course administrator Sam Trollip would like to see an increase in enrolment numbers that is directly proportional to the buy-in from valves company management, the value of their respective companies and the growth of the valves industry overall.
“The valves industry is specialised, and we would like to see even more input from valves companies sponsoring young aspirant learners in valves training, and creating job opportunities for the unemployed,” she adds.
She notes that many learners leave school and cannot fund further education or find employment.
“The Savama courses present an opportunity to help school-leavers move in a direction that qualifies them in this niche field.”
Trollip adds that the certificates attained through the completion of the training courses are recognised in the valves industry and are particularly valuable when seeking employment, transferring to other companies and even working abroad in the valves industry.
She tells Mining Weekly that, unfortunately, the training courses have not had much buy-in from mining houses, which often choose to train their valve technicians in-house instead. However, she maintains that Savama’s valves training courses could still be of value to those companies.
“Valves are an integral part of all mining operations, so the training courses are of immense benefit to those working in the mining industry.”
She explains that the courses ensure that aspiring valve technicians are properly prepared and motivated for work in the field, while consolidating their knowledge.
“Individual companies and the industry will see growth in skilled employees who have increased knowledge and understanding, leading to a marked improvement in job satisfaction and motivation,” says Trollip.
One challenge, however, is improving the rate of completion of the courses, as some learners do not have the motivation to study part-time and see the course through.
“It requires commitment, perseverance and good discipline, which are beneficial traits for any employee to develop. In this way, it is ensured that there is value beyond the course material,” she notes.
Trollip adds that there is a need for increased awareness of the availability of the courses, as this will help to ensure a more consistent flow of new candidates.
Further, she hopes that the number of sponsored candidates will increase, adding that Savama would like to see companies’ fund allocation for training stipulated as an industry-wide policy and used more consistently, while ensuring that those companies that adhere to this faithfully receive better recognition and exposure.
Trollip also would like to see companies offer greater support to those in training, such as being granted time in the workplace for coursework, wherever possible. This should be discussed with CEOs of sponsor companies upon candidate registration.
Moreover, sponsor companies should ensure that mentors in their organisations are assigned to each sponsored candidate to help ensure that the candidate completes the three- to six-month course and is sufficiently motivated.
“This is an ongoing challenge. However, when the mentor strategy is implemented, the results are outstanding,” Trollip says.
She implores the valve industry to make training a priority.