The mining industry training company, the Colliery Training Center (CTC), has established links with various original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), technology research organizations and employers to enable it to train students and employees on the latest equipment and technologies emerging in the industry, CEO of CTC Manyabela Mailula recount Weekly mining.
Changing technological needs in the industry mean that new skills and a deeper understanding of concepts and digital coaching are required by students as well as professionals in the mining and related industries.
“Skills development and training are strategic, depending on a company’s strategic objectives and the direction it wants the organization to take, or depending on the needs of the customers it serves.
“From that end goal, they will then be able to determine what training they will need. However, CTC’s customers are focused on their operations, which introduces the need for a high-level, independent, industry-focused initiative to determine which technologies are likely to be introduced,” says Mailula.
The most effective way to identify technologies that will be deployed in the mining industry is to work with OEMs and establish a conversation to ensure a skill set is mapped and training is provided prior to deployment. introduction of technologies, thereby narrowing or eliminating the gap between the rate of technology introduction and the development of the skills required for effective and accelerated adoption.
“Our goal is to establish when different skills will be required and to determine the training approach that will improve understanding of the individual components that make up a system.
“The objective is no longer to train only technical skills, i.e. how to install, repair and maintain, but to extend the students into an environment in which they understand how to identify, assemble and disassemble components to amplify the ability to find faults and troubleshoot. Real-time wireless communication, fault finding and troubleshooting are increasingly becoming indispensable soft skills in the field of engineering,” he says. she.
“Therefore, we need to take a front-and-center approach in conversations with equipment manufacturers to ensure that new technologies are understood by all end users, not just design engineers. This approach will also help accelerate the process of aligning the rigidly regulated curriculum with changing technologies and new skill sets in various disciplines. There needs to be a relationship between education regulators, manufacturers, end users and employers.
“Only then can we approach mining companies to tell them this is the direction the technology is taking and what skills are required so that they can assess whether the technology and skills are relevant to their organization. and their role in the industry,” says Mailula.
Having OEMs and industrial research and development organizations as strategic partners enables an industry skills structure to acquire a wealth of knowledge and can overcome the wait time for regulators to approve qualifications at the end of the value chain, which in most cases is too late to catch up and often reducing training interventions to a compliance exercise.
“We need to unlearn the notion that training is for compliance. Training is the difference between efficiency and waste, unsafe and safe production, and the freedom for students and professionals to make informed and responsible decisions. .”
It will also allow mining companies to design their skills development plan in line with their strategic technology adoption plans, she adds.
“CTC works with the industry employers organization Minerals Council South Africa, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and universities that are at the forefront of technology development. It is about establishing a dialogue to help industry and CTC to design and execute the transformation into the skills and training needed to achieve industry-wide and business goals.
“We want to serve as a trusted advisor and a trusted skills development center for the industry,” she says.
Moreover, the accelerating pace of change and development of technology also means that training programs must be revised and new programs must be approved much more often.
The CTC, as an education and training body, is highly regulated and its curriculum is also regulated by the National Qualifications Authority.
While the Trades and Occupations Quality Council leads discussions on qualifications for new skills and occupations, such as mechatronics, the highly technical nature of technology needs in the mining industry means there is a need to put in place a structure whereby employers can inform boards and regulators of new and emerging needs at a more flexible, responsive and practical pace, says Mailula.
Meanwhile, CTC plans to use digital technologies to augment its training. Only about 30% of the learning students need takes place in the classroom, with the remaining 70% being hands-on, hands-on learning.
However, CTC also understands the pressures in its clients’ workspaces that impede the on-the-job training required to effectively train students.
Thus, the training company, within the framework of its five-year strategic objectives, aims to develop its own in-company training systems. These should be split into two components, namely a physical mockup, which the organization currently uses, and digital replicas of customer environments.
“We aim to establish ourselves as a workplace where students can train and thereby reduce or remove our reliance on mining and business to provide work experience opportunities. We want to grow our test center into a workplace, then position ourselves to offer training on assembly, disassembly, installation, repair and maintenance of the critical and specific units that our customers operate.
“We are also exploring the use of other technologies, such as three-dimensional printing to produce replicas of components and equipment. Students can then learn about precise physical models of the equipment and be tested on their mastery of various processes before working with the equipment. These types of innovations will also be used to complement and be consistent with our existing understanding testing methods, such as fault finding and root cause testing, among others,” adds Mailula.
“CTC’s Board of Directors has approved a feasibility study for the Business Improvement Division to engage broadly with OEMs, research centers, higher education institutions and employers on technologies and the skills required in digitizing trades related to mining, renewable energy and collision avoidance systems to take CTC’s offerings and services from good to great,” she says.