GCC Student Workshop
As part of improving the engineering competency deficit in South Africa, several industries such as the mining industry require graduate engineers to be GCC (Government Certificate of Competency) certified. The process of being GCC certified requires training and writing of the plant and legal examinations.
In light of this, we, the South African Colliery Engineers Association (SACEA)in collaboration with AMRE and the DMR hosted a GCC student workshop on 16 May 2019 in Kriel, Mpumalanga. With SACEA’s motto of being Professional, Dynamic and Value Adding, this workshop aimed to instill a sense of confidence and preparedness as students approach this critical exam.
The purpose of the GCC examination is to distinguish competent mechanical and electrical engineering candidates from those that are not (yet) competent. Hence significant preparation and thought went into this half-day workshop which entailed a keynote by the Mpumalanga Principal Inspector, Mr. Ayanda Zide, GCC tips from Brian O’Connor (Senior Principal Engineer at Anglo American Platinum), a presentation (including a mini practical) on gas safety by Rob Lawrence and Coen Fick (Gas Safety International), an update on GCC exam changes/developments by Celumusa Malinga (Training Manager at Department of Mineral Resources), and examiners feedback by Kolani Mamburu (Managing Director, Botho Group) and Ephraim Mojalefa (RLT Manager at Anglo American).
The Principal Inspector went into detail on critical aspects that plague the plant environment and, as a result, required knowledge for the GCC exam as well. Mr Zide placed emphasis on Key Health and Safety Milestones, highlighting the fact that, our target is to be Fatal Free as from 2020. “Every fatality is one too many”.
Mr. Zide concluded by congratulating the mines for the effort that they continue to put into ensuring that the safety and health of our employees improves. The trend over the years shows a significant improvement, however, we still need to remain cautious, because our target remains zero harm. He’s looking forward to collaborations with this sector on enhancing skills development including the certificate of competency mode. “The Department of Mineral Resources will continue to collaborate with all the tripartite stakeholders in implementing effective measures to ensure that the goal of zero is achieved” he said.
The Principal Inspector highlighted, on the front of experiential training, aspects of legal knowledge (MHS Act, regulations, Codes of Practices (compiled as per guideline issued 9(2), Standards (SANS), Standard and Operating Procedures and plant engineering (winding plant and electrical).
Revised rules that all GCC students need to take note of include: To reduce time taken to obtain a GCC, students are now given 2 years or 4 attempts; there’s major effort going into improving the quality of training programmes as well as invigilation in the examination centres; and only those accepted will qualify to write examinations. Candidates were advised to only attempt writing the exam when they are ready to do so, to make sure that they preserve the opportunities they have to pass the exam within the 2 years period. The Commission of Exams is progressing well with the process of managing the Exams without the involvement of DHET, as is still the case currently.
Brian O’Connor highlighted that the purpose of the GCC exam is to assess student’s ability to apply theoretical and practical knowledge to obtain engineering solutions. “You need to demonstrate that you can think on your feet. We want engineers who can analyse situations and apply sound rational engineering judgement based on their deep knowledge experience and training. We do not want – copy and paste engineers who run to Google and books every time a problem arises,” he said.
The examiners provided valuable feedback to the candidates, based on the November 2018 Examination Results. This is done in every Workshop to make students aware of some of the errors that get repeated by the students in every exam. The feedback also highlighted the fact that some students write the exams without proper preparation, and the new rules are aimed at, amongst other things, to eliminate such candidates. There will be a change of examiners, starting with the June 2019 examination, however the basic structure of both papers will remain the same. Students must just prepare well, despite the change in examiners, and those who make a good effort will pass.
SACEA Council Member & Past President
We caught some of the GCC candidates during tea to hear their thoughts on the workshop. This is what they had to say: