Africa has over a billion people. Nigeria, for example has over 160 million people with high turnout of new technical/engineering graduates every year, majority of who remain unemployed or sometimes unemployable in industrial plants.
As of today, Many African countries are consumers of technology. So most process or industrial plants, power plants , breweries etc arrive as pre-packages; pre-designed, pre-programmed with minimal engineering done on site.
Hence, there is a big need for technicians, engineering technologies and system engineers to carry out hook-ups, commissioning, operations and maintenance.
Due to the multitude of OEM technologies that co-exist to make up a typical plant, too many companies have lost their capacity to train inexperienced engineers.
For existing plants, most of the very experienced technicians and engineers are now retiring or retired. The 20-30 years experienced engineers (the dream Technical/Operations Manager of most facilities) will retire in another 5-10 years. So here is the million dollar question we all need to ask: How can we hope to replace the practical knowledge lost to retirement?
On the other side, Quite a number of young graduates in Africa now realize that many new jobs springing up will not require a degree. These jobs will require technical expertise and knowledge that are not taught in schools.
Extra professional training is needed to improve chances of new engineers getting into the industry or to land their dream job as engineers or technicians.
The difference between Engineers and Technicians is not that one is more hands-on or practical than the other. Rather, the fundamental difference between the two is that Engineers develop/design systems while Technicians support those systems. These two critical functions require extensive hands-on training and on the job training (OJT) to be relevant in their fields.
Over the years, knowledge of industrial Automation, Instrumentation and Control systems have been limited due to the lack of roadmap to skill acquisition for fresh entrants and constant retraining avenue for existing skilled workers.
At GIL, we aim at bridging this knowledge gaps with emphasis on hands-on vendor-neutral technical training. Since we also practice what we teach as a systems integrator/ Automation service provider, we bring to bear our wealth of field experience to relate with our attendees. We offer startup, intermediate and advanced courses in automation skills. We even have a packaged certificate in Automation engineering which covers the basics of automation, safety, programming, field wiring, operations and maintenance skills in 3 months. Check www.giltraining.com for more details.
We believe that this skill/knowledge gap urgently needs attention of the government and policy makers. Plants need qualified personnel to run.
Fresh engineering/technician graduates shouldn’t just stop at having a degree or getting a certificate, they should seek to know the global standards and some form of certification in the field of practice, such as the ISA CAP, CSST or CSE.
We need our skilled engineers and technicians back in the plant!