An increasing number of engineers are participating in engineering and main- tenance short courses that have been accredited or are in the process of being accredited for continuous professional development (CPD) points by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), says training provider Alusani Skills & Training Network MD Jacinta Tshidzumba.
She says short courses often fill a specific skills gap that may not have been addressed during full-time courses. These courses place more emphasis on practical skills and transcend theory to replicate the situations of a working environment.
“ECSA expects its members to practise within their areas of competence and maintain and enhance their competence through participation in CPD programmes over a five-year cycle.
“Engineers generally participate in a number of short courses every year to meet the CPD requirements,” she explains.
Further education modules, such as short courses on technical report writing, finance for engineers and presentation skills for engineers, supplement the knowledge gained through tertiary education.
Tshidzumba says engineers benefit significantly from short courses while in the workplace, as these provide them with additional skills and enable them to present technical ideas to either internal or external stakeholders with confidence.
Nevertheless, she points out that, while it is an ECSA requirement for engineers to participate in CPD programmes, many similar associations view such programmes as little more than money-making schemes because many training companies do not provide high-quality training and courses.
“I would advise anyone looking for a course to look at the record of the training company. Even if a course has CPD points, [there is no guarantee that it is] a high quality course. You need to look at factors such as the calibre of course leaders and the proven record of the training company offering the course.
Further, if you are being offered a course that offers you an iPad or an iPhone for attending, you should steer clear, as these courses are more often than not a waste of money,” warns Tshidzumba.
Alusani offers engineers, scientists and those in technical professions short courses on technical report writing, finance, project and technical management and presentation skills, as well as many other topics.
The training provider also has maintenance-focused training courses for engineers. These include training on life-cycle costing, maintenance planning and scheduling for improved reliability and uptime, preventive maintenance programmes, as well as root-cause and failure analysis, among others.
Each course will earn attendees two or three CPD points, depending on the length of the course.
Between 20 and 30 people attend each course, which is held over two to three days.
Successful participants receive a certificate of completion from Alusani.
Further, the company points out that, should it develop new engineering training courses, it ensures that the courses are registered with the South African Institute of Civil Engineering and ECSA for CPD points.