EDUCATION

Leading the pack

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Latest data released by Statistics SA on youth unemployment is alarming, 20 years into a working democracy. The unemployment rate for youth aged between 15 and 36 has increased to 36.1% from 32.7% in 2009 with unemployment amongst black South Africans at 39.4% and white South Africans at 9%. These high unemployment numbers challenge South Africa’s thinking regarding higher education, forcing the focus to move from traditional qualifications to skills qualifications.

The Vaal University of Technology (VUT) is playing a leading role in providing its graduates with the requisite qualification and experience to prepare graduates for high demand, scarce-skills careers in industry.

Head of Department for Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) at VUT, Ike Sikakana, says NDT is a qualification with a great future. It is the only course of this nature provided in Africa with comparative qualifications found in the UK, the USA, India, Malaysia and Ukraine.

Non-Destructive Testing relates to the testing of materials for flaws without harming the materials under test, providing a cost-effective means of inspection while protecting the material’s usability. VUT Non-destructive testing program provides tremendous opportunities in gaining knowledge about material safety and quality inspection.

“This programme prepares our students for careers in testing and inspection in a wide range of industries which is in high demand. Applicable industries include aviation, construction, maintenance, industrial plants (nuclear, petroleum, Sasol, Eskom, steel and fabrication), railways, independent testing laboratories, electronics and arms.

“Graduates have extensive career opportunities, ranging from technicians to engineers and research and development professionals”, remarked Mr Sikakana.
The skilled professional is what South Africa needs to cultivate more so now than ever. Universities of Technology and EFT colleges are properly positioned to bridge the skill gap by offering innovative courses and diplomas. The three-year national diploma course consists of two years of course work, followed by a year of work-integrated learning.

“The following NDT end-user industries have over the past 10 years assisted with in-service Training of VUT graduates; Rotek Engineering, Stein Müller Engineering, Scaw Metals, Thomas Foundry to mentione but a few, said Mr. Sakakana.

To qualify for enrollment on the programme, an applicant must have matriculation at level 4 in English, mathematics and physical science. Although the course has been offered since the 1970s, it has recently been refreshed and there are currently more than 200 students registered in the first four of six semesters. The diploma elevates NDT to be respected as a key component for the safe operation of machinery and equipment in industry.

 

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