In the fast-changing world of engineering, staying afloat in terms of qualifications, credentials and knowledge is a tough business. Luckily, it is becoming easier to remain in an industry, work hard at it, but at the same time gain more knowledge on the side that will further you in your industry. The other scenario is, you may be later on in life and not able to go all the way back to university to gain the credentials that would get you a job in an engineering career right now. What do you do? Who do you turn to? With reference to what individuals are doing around the world, you might be able to have a deeper understanding of what your next move could be in terms of gaining more knowledge and in turn being a viable option for an engineering job, or keeping that engineering job you already have.
Ms Poh Li Ping wanted to change up her credentials in the kind of civil engineering she was doing. She felt as if she had settled for a cubicle job and rather wanted to get out there and oversee actual civil engineering in practice. She was able to take a bridging course at the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES). On top of that, she had to take a master's programme in civil engineering, a six-month course from the National University of Singapore. As a result, she can now get out of the office and go and oversee civil engineering construction projects and can be involved in the design process of projects.
"By attending all these extra courses, this has opened up one more door for me for future opportunities," said Poh.
Poh Li Ping's extra layers of qualifications will come in handy due to recent studies in Singapore that revealed engineering services in the country - especially in the civil industry - are experiencing retrenchments.
Experts in Singapore are warning that remaining employable in engineering industries will depend on whether or not the engineers build on their knowledge. Nanyang Technological University professor Chew Soon Beng told TODAY that the nature of engineering work has changed and thinks engineers should build on their "financial and econometric" skills.
In South Africa, if you already have qualifications in engineering and want to stay up to date with what's happening as the industry changes, there are online institutions that offer bridging courses or just general video courses to become even more proficient in the type of engineering that is being done. Some engineers cannot afford to go all the way back to university to continually build on their credentials and know-how. You can get professional certificates of competency and advanced diplomas in a certain kind of engineering that could lead to a job in an engineering industry.
You can do these courses globally seeing as though it's online education. However, specifically in South Africa, if you wish to go to another institution and continue to build on your engineering qualifications after doing an advanced diploma, you would have to go to the South African Qualifications Authority and convert your qualifications to the South African standard.
The Dean of Engineering at the Engineering Insitute of Technology (who host the fundamentals courses mentioned above), Steve Mackay, spoke about engineering education that works, recently. He said: "We really need to focus on the basics, which is, having outstanding industry experienced instructors involved with the students. That's what really matters...people who have industry experience."
What remains clear is that people who are already in engineering jobs should continue to build on their experience in the industry but at the same time stay fresh with knowledge whilst the engineering industries change with the times.