2021 could accurately be described as the year of reinvention thanks to the radically altered socio-economic lives of all South Africans. Realising this, the SAIW has taken a long, hard look at its current courses and come up with a revitalised offering that has been designed with its students at the centre of everything it does.
SAIW Executive Director John Tarboton comments; "To be completely honest, we are sometimes seen as having a 'take it or leave it' attitude and our courses are often considered unaffordable. As a result, we have taken a long hard look at how we operate and reimagine who we are and how we do things.
“We also have a dedicated student liaison officer who is an experienced SAIW staff member and can provide detailed information and advice on career choices and how students can attain their goals and aspirations through the upskilling that we offer.”
Looking at the practicalities of training amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant financial fallout, the SAIW management team has visited a substantial number of its members and clients in the first three months of this year. During these meetings, it has become clear that many of its Fabricator members have reduced the number of employees and that it has therefore become exceedingly difficult to release an employee to attend a course.
Tarboton reports; “Some students have even had to request refunds for courses that they had paid for because they were denied time off from work. This is because employers have retrenched staff and cannot afford to give students extensive time off work, even if the course is funded by the employee. There is thus also a demand for after-hours virtual courses accompanied by physical or virtual sessions on Saturdays where other practical components and interactions such as tutorials which will require a physical presence.”
Flexible & cost effective
The SAIW’s new modular approach will give employers the flexibility to train people when their workload allows and a course could be completed over, say, two years. Modules will typically be one week and after each module, a class test will be written, and the module can be ‘banked’. The student can then complete the next module when finances or workloads in the student’s place of work allow.
In the past, the smaller modules were also often presented at a fabricator’s facilities on a particular topic that was relevant to their needs. Ultimately, all the courses will be modularised to give this flexibility and to allow customisation of courses where desirable.
A student-centric, flexible approach has also been applied to the payment of courses where the SAIW now offers long-term payment options via the online revolving credit service Mobicred. Students will be required to register and apply for a particular course on the SAIW Student Management System located on www.saiw.co.za. This will be followed by the physical checking of their application to confirm various acceptance requirements They will then be emailed a quotation followed by payment using one of a variety of options including an immediate EFT, credit card or a longer term Mobicred instalment plan.
This means that instead of the student having to save up R47 520, for example, to attend a Level 1 Inspectors Course, they could opt to do the first module at a cost of R11 880 and then split this payment into budget-friendly instalments and attend the first module as soon as the first instalment is paid.
The COVID-19 lockdown last year also allowed SAIW to realise an opportunity to offer virtual training when the course content allows. This has been well received by our members and students as a way of reducing travel, accommodation and related costs particularly for those from out of town. In addition, this would allow employees to be at work and to attend online courses for those days that are all theory. One day’s training at the SAIW is normally from 08h30 to 15h00 and thus there would be some availability for the fabricator of someone attending virtually.
In addition to a revamp of its training courses, the SAIW’s NDT operations have also been improved with excellent attendance at its current Level 3 course that has drawn students from across the continent. This has been accompanied by the launch of a weekly webinar ‘highlights package’ for other students wanting to enrol in the next Level 3 course in August 2021.
Tarboton says; “We are also becoming a catalyst for enabling the welding sector to move into the next industrial revolution with the re-launch of our Robotic Welding course. This will be underpinned by an MOU with the CSIR’s 4IR unit and the SAIW will also be assisting them with the development of exciting new Apps to enhance welder training and quality assurance.”
“Overall, we are expanding our role of being a world-class training provider in welding and related technologies to developing our national welding capability. In line with this, the introduction of our new modular courses is designed to make career development easier by improving course affordability and access.”
To find out more information about the SAIW’s new look courses or gain advice on your career path please email email@example.com or call (021) 555-2535.
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