In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Federal Government has announced a relief package, which means they are funding six-month higher education certificates in ‘priority areas’ – one of which is engineering.
We have been busy designing industry-oriented online undergraduate certificates and graduate certificates to help those already working in the engineering field, or those who want to enter the engineering field, retrain or upskill.
For a small contribution, you will be able to earn a short qualification from EIT in the areas of electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, industrial automation engineering, and civil and structural engineering.
Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said this package was designed to give those affected by the coronavirus an opportunity to upskill or look at different career options for the future.
“We’re slashing the prices of degrees and diplomas in short courses to enable people, rather than binging on Netflix, to be able to binge on studying –areas where we need people, and we’re going to need people, as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.
This means that Australians can use their time in lockdown to gain new skills and knowledge in in-demand areas, so they are ready to rejoin the workforce post-coronavirus. However, you don’t need to be affected by the pandemic to take advantage of this opportunity to gain a new qualification.
Mr. Tehan said the government has encouraged education providers to develop courses in areas that will give students the required skills after the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’ll be an offering of short diploma-style certificates, and, also, an expansion of graduate certificates. So, these are six-month courses. You could either use them to reskill, or you can use them to change careers, or just to start learning.
“So, if your life’s been turned upside down because of the coronavirus, and, you think, ‘Okay, I might want to change careers,’ then this is a real opportunity, for the next six months, to take on board one of these short courses.”
These online short qualifications are known as micro-credentials and have become increasingly popular in recent years. Researchers from Edith Cowan University and Flinders University suggest this is because these short courses are able to align themselves with industry needs through collaboration and deliver targeted skills that are required in the workplace.
At EIT, we will be offering a choice of eight online qualifications supported by the Australian Government via a Commonwealth Supported Place (CSP). This means the government will pay for part of the course, while students will only have to contribute $500. Eligible students can defer their student contribution payment through FEE-HELP.
These qualifications will be delivered via our unique online delivery methodology, which allows students to connect with each other and their lecturer in real-time during the live and interactive tutorials. State of the art technologies, such as remote laboratories and simulation software, enable students to gain practical knowledge that can be immediately applied in the workplace.
These new courses will only be available to Australian/domestic students and will begin in June 2020.
The ‘future of work’ is being shaped by a powerful force; the growing adoption of online technologies and artificial intelligence in the workplace. This year has seen the world as we once knew it change rapidly, with the majority of the globe going into an unprecedented lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it is easy (and expected) to feel anxious when there is so much uncertainty and change, there is an opportunity to upskill or skill shift in technology and leadership to meet the requirements of continuously evolving workplaces.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded that workplaces and education providers adapt to new technologies. These technologies have allowed people to work and study from home while maintaining consistent levels of communication and collaboration.
The pandemic has also painted a picture of a world where automated machines increasingly replace workers so that companies can become more efficient, ensure fiscal responsibility, and maintain productivity. For those caught up in the gig economy, it has exposed a fundamental lack of job security paired with the precarious nature of work. While governments, companies, and employees have been preparing for the disruption of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for some time, this pandemic has likely accelerated advances in technology beyond what we expected.
By recognizing these challenges to the labor market, we now have an opportunity to look at the bigger picture and lay the foundations for a more resilient future, according to the World Economic Forum.
This acceleration in digitization and automation means upskilling and reskilling is necessary to ensure employability in ever-evolving workplaces. Key skills in these areas consist of coding and programming, machine learning and artificial intelligence, industrial data communications, and instrumentation, automation and process control.
At the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT), we believe in instilling our students with cutting-edge skills that the industry demands. These skills are taught via our unique online delivery methodology, which allows students to connect with each other and their lecturer in real-time during the live and interactive webinars. State of the art technologies, such as remote laboratories and simulation software, enable students to gain practical knowledge that can be immediately applied in the workplace. While we offer formal qualifications from diplomas and advanced diplomas, through to bachelor’s and master’s degrees, we also offer three month short courses in micro-skills to help engineers future-proof themselves as the industry continues to evolve.
Being able to problem-solve in a digitized world is becoming increasingly important. Through EIT, engineers and technicians can study python programming to help them solve engineering problems, write automation scripts, and manipulate and analyze big-data.
As businesses become increasingly automated, engineers need to have a thorough understanding of the technologies used to achieve this. Industrial networking and industrial data communications systems are essential to keeping electronic and digital data transferring between devices. Therefore, it is crucial that those who work with these systems understand the components and can identify, prevent, and troubleshoot any problems. Likewise, engineers who work with systems that are becoming increasingly automated must have practical knowledge regarding the selection, installation, and commissioning of industrial instrumentation and control valves.It is also important that they have a fundamental understanding of PLCs and SCADA systems. EIT offers short courses in these areas that allow you to upskill in a practical way, so you can immediately implement what you have learned, to become more efficient at your job.
It is not only digital skills that need to be enhanced, though; it is equally important for engineers to hone their ‘human skills.
Throughout this pandemic, employers have had to work harder to show support and leadership. However, this crisis has given them the opportunity to consider their employees’ needs on a holistic level, to keep them engaged and motivated physically, mentally, and emotionally. Leadership has become increasingly important as processes have had to become streamlined to facilitate quick decision making, new technologies have been quickly introduced, and teams have had to find new ways to collaborate despite being physically apart.
According to Forbes, times like these expose true leaders as they are forced to step up and perform beyond their usual duties.
“Throughout a crisis, leadership is more important than ever. It is also clear which leadership behaviors are most effective. In the toughest times, the leaders who excel are those who communicate clearly, stay calm and strong, demonstrate empathy, think long-term and take appropriate decisive action. It is likely these difficult times will filter out leaders who are less stellar.”
As companies continue to implement new technologies and automate certain practices post-pandemic, employers and managers will be expected to continue demonstrating strong leadership, to maintain the trust and faith of their teams. EIT has created a three-month online course in Project Management for Engineers & Technicians, to help engineers lead their teams effectively and efficiently manage projects.
Now is the time to look towards our futures and consider where our careers may take us.
As a passionate educator, EIT’s Dean, Dr Steve Mackay, never underestimates the benefits of a good quality education. When a career path and an individual are aligned he knows the sky is the limit. Engineering and technology are the focus of EIT, but so too are those who yearn to work in a field of endeavour that inspires and drives them every day.
This is the story of a young South African man who, with has his heart set on farming, is achieving his dream. Asanda Mnguni is the one with the vision, but he is being supported by his indomitable mother, Nomsa (Gloria) Mkhwanazi, a gifted farmer, Ms Gitti Kraupner, and the Engineering Institute of Technology.
Asanda is 21 years old and studying away from home, but during college holidays he lives with Gloria, a single parent, a house keeper and part-time carer of the frail and elderly. They live at the foot of the magnificent Drakensberg Mountains, in Himeville - a tiny village near Underberg. Whilst the region is known for tourism, it is also known for its farming communities.
Himeville also happens to be where Steve Mackay’s wife grew up. Asanda explains, “Steve and Edwina started supporting my mother when I was still a child because of our poor living conditions. The year was 2006, and my mother was unemployed at the time. We have been receiving their support ever since.”
Building an agricultural future
Asanda is in his third year of a Diploma of Agricultural Management at Cedara Agricultural College. He says his future in agriculture looks bright because he is receiving support from local commercial farmers who are allowing him to gain practical experience on their farms and it is helping him gain the necessary skills needed within the farming sector.
“Growing up in a farming community made me consider agriculture as a possible career choice. I may be one of the first black farmers within my community once I have completed my studies,” Asanda says proudly.
During South Africa’s Covd-19 lock-down, Asanda has been working on an Aquaponics project on Gitti Kraupner’s farm in Himeville. The Aquaponics project is a new addition to the farm – the farm typically specializes in cattle breeding.
Aquaponics is a system of aquaculture in which the waste produced by farmed fish, or other aquatic creatures, supplies the nutrients for plants grown hydroponically (without soil) and in its turn purifies the water.
In drought prone regions many South African farmers are beginning to view aquaponics as a viable farming alternative and it is being considered a means to producing food for impoverished communities. Asanda notes that an aquaponic ‘farm’ can be started in the smallest of backyards and retailers have the necessary equipment for a start-up.
About the project he is involved with, Asanda explains, “We have constructed the whole aquaponic system from scratch. Advantages of this system include reduced water wastage, increased production per square meter and an organic way to produce food when compared with traditional farming methods. This approach will help feed the growing population and meet the future demand for food.”
Asanda is passionate about the future of agriculture in South Africa and wants to see a turn-around in the economy where 29% of South Africa’s population are unemployed.
Asanda concludes, “In the next 5 to 10 years I really want to see myself on my own farm implementing all the knowledge I have learned while studying, and the skills I’ve obtained from farm experiences. I really hope to inspire the youth - not to think of agriculture as a rudimentary job in society, but to understand the importance of farming, especially in rural areas where most of the youth can grow their own wealth without having to search for it in cities where employment can be a challenge.”
All of us at EIT are very proud of Asanda. He is dedicated to his studies and has taken advantage of the practical farming experiences offered to him.
Steve Mackay remains in awe of EIT students and alumni who draw on their education and entrepreneurial skill to support their communities. It is this sense of social responsibility which inspires EIT to do the same.
It was clear that all Asanda needed - to make his way in the world - was determination, an opportunity to demonstrate and hone his growing skill, and a little support. We wish him well as he works towards completing his qualification and becoming a fully-fledged farmer in South Africa.
Aaron Giovenco is an electro-technical specialist who works in the maritime and offshore oil and gas industries. He says our 52708WA - Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation developed both his theoretical and practical knowledge in the automation space, which will help him to further his career.
He began his career as an electrician after seeking employment opportunities in Perth, Western Australia, due to its mining boom. While studying his apprenticeship, he realized he was interested in engineering.
“Back in 2008, when pursuing my electrical apprenticeship, I found the theoretical side interesting and enjoyed learning it,” he said.
“This passion has continued to evolve over my career. I enjoy designing and coming up with solutions, which is why I’ve decided to pursue a career in the engineering industry, and automation and control engineering has great future job growth potential.”
Once he became qualified, Aaron spent a couple of years working in a myriad of different environments. One thing he says he noticed was how much technology had bled into the sector and fundamentally transformed it. After he took an opportunity to lead a team on a coal seam gas project in Queensland, he realized he wanted to pursue a career in the engineering industry.
He currently works as an electro-technical officer for a marine operations management company on Shell’s Prelude FLNG Project. The job sees him working with a team of people within the ship’s engineering department, and his responsibilities include carrying out electrical and electronic maintenance, repairs, diagnosis, installations, and testing.
“A key part of my role is maintaining high integrity and availability of key vessel systems such as power generation, VFDs with associated thrusters, and automation systems such as dynamic positioning. When breakdowns occur, I attempt to fault find and come up with a solution. However, sometimes this is not possible due to parts, which is why the redundant architecture is important to keep maintained.”
Throughout his career, Aaron has had to familiarize himself with automation technologies and complex instrumentation. He says that the trend of newly introduced automation technologies will likely continue exponentially into the future. Therefore, he decided to complete an advanced diploma through EIT that would encapsulate a broader scope of the industry in the one course.
“Studying the 52708WA - Advanced Diploma of Industrial Automation has enabled me to simultaneously strengthen theoretical knowledge within my present occupation, while also upskilling my qualifications for a future career. I chose Industrial Automation specifically because, in my opinion, it offered a broader range of subjects than a conventional electrical or instrumentation course and also because the qualification is formally recognized by Engineers Australia and internationally through the Dublin Accord.”
Aaron is planning to continue his academic and working journey with further studies.
“I will continue working for my current employer as the job suits me at this stage of my life. I’m also planning to study further - I recently enrolled for the Bachelor of Science (Industrial Automation) with EIT.”
It is said that iron sharpens iron. At the Engineering Institute of Technology (EIT), that statement rings true every day. There is an ecosystem of managers, learning support officers, and course advisors who work in tandem to ensure students enrolled in our programs are on their way to achieving their academic and career goals.
The South African office has had to roll with the punches of the strict lockdown regulations imposed as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sisipho Phakamisa, an EIT Learning Support Officer, says the person who has been keeping her on-track amidst the lockdown is EIT Africa’s International Education Manager and South African Office Manager David Gadjus.
“He has proven to be a proactive leader, as well as very supportive,” she said.
“He engages a lot with the team, and he always jumps at the opportunity to help. The lockdowns took us all by surprise, and he has done a great job of unifying us in what would otherwise be a very chaotic time.”
Anele Fihla is a Course Advisor in EIT’s South African office. Her daily responsibilities include handling enquiries from prospective students, and explaining to them what EIT’s transformative online and campus-based engineering courses entail.
Once the students have registered for courses, Anele helps maintain the growing EIT student database. She is also currently responsible for the Health and Safety Department in the Johannesburg office. Anele says that it is the internal synergy within EIT’s offices that produces the cohesive, well-oiled machine the students have come to know and love. Anele says that in this time of lockdown in South Africa, it is the managers inside the institution who show her how to stay level-headed. Anele says the person who has helped her deal with some of the tougher moments during lockdown has been Regional Manager of the Southern African branch of EIT, Cheryl Segal.
“I have learned a thing or two from her through observing her. The most important nugget of wisdom she has imparted to me is: focus on one thing at a time. When she spoke to me about this, it made me understand why she is so level-headed. She seems to block out a lot of the noise and prioritizes the goal at hand. Personally, I feel this is an important attribute to have during a workday. It is important for your mental health,” said Anele.
Meanwhile, David has coordinated an entirely virtual office remotely and ensure all the staff members are on track to achieving the organizational goals. He says one of the more effective ways of keeping everyone relaxed during the anxiety-inducing lockdowns is to have a catch-up meeting with the staff on a Friday that doesn’t involve any work talk.
“I have been amazed at the resilience of the South African staff,” he said.
“They have managed to keep the office running smoothly despite the restrictive lockdown in the country. South Africans, in particular, are getting through this tough time with their amazing sense of humor and their dedicated work ethic as well.”
With the influx of enquiries, the South African team is working hard to get the new students registered and studying via our unique online delivery methodology. South African engineers-in-waiting are seeking out online programs due to the closure of university campuses around the country. School leavers are particularly looking into alternatives due to the disruption of the academic year.
Anele says she is ensuring that she speaks to prospective students as calmly and sensibly as possible. She says she is cognizant that this is a scary time for those who are trying to gain skills in the industry and contribute to their communities as much as they can. Students of EIT— and the prospective ones considering signing up for a course soon — can breathe a sigh of relief knowing the course advisors and learning support officers are ready to help them take control of their futures and help them study online without disruption.