The nature of the engineering profession carries with it the responsibility of professional persons to practise strictly within their area of competence and knowledge. Staying abreast of developments and advancements within the profession is therefore a requirement that can be achieved by continuously maintaining and developing knowledge within the field of practice. Continued Professional Development (CPD) is a mechanism used by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) to achieve this for registered professionals in South Africa.
ECSA defines CPD as: “The systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge and skills, and the development of personal qualities necessary for the execution of professional and technical duties throughout a person’s engineering career.”
All persons actively practicing as engineering professionals are required to register with ECSA, the body charged by the Government in terms of the Engineering Professions Act, 2000 (Act 46 of 2000) to regulate the practice of engineering in South Africa. The Act charges ECSA: “to serve and protect the safety and health of the public by establishing and maintaining minimum standards of practice, knowledge and skills of registered engineering persons in the country as well as to establish and maintain standards of professional ethics among them.” Agreements with international bodies—Engineers Mobility Forum, and the Engineering Technologists Mobility Forum—allows registered persons to have international registration through ECSA’s CPD programme. CPD is used to determine the renewal of ECSA registration.
For professionals practising within the energy sector, the Mining and Industrial Energy Optimization (MIEO) seminars are CPD-accredited through the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers (SAIEE), for ECSA registration renewal requirements. MIEO is a chapter of the Southern African Association for Energy Efficiency (SAEE), a body dedicated to furthering and enhancing the body of energy efficiency knowledge and expertise within the Southern African region. MIEO seminars are held under the auspices of the SAEE.
Technological advancement and development is a given. New solutions, new technologies, new applications, new information—all form part of a growing economy and a growing profession like engineering. Since engineering is one of the fastest growing sectors in our economy, it is therefore also a crucial sector for a country’s economic future for job creation. In fact, Prof Harry Seftel, medical doctor and popular television, radio and conference personality, always says: “Engineering has done more for the health of the population than the medical profession has”.
This is probably true in most sectors, not only medical—the core of development is engineering. Energy efficiency is seen by the South African government as the industry of the future and is listed as one of the most important sectors — along with mining and industry — for job creation. Internationally it has been reported as the fastest growing industry in most countries.
For mining and industry to remain competitive, there is no choice but to embrace the developing sector of energy efficiency. Besides upholding environmental responsibilities, mining and industry can ensure the maintenance of further economic and market growth by powering it through energy savings, as well as by optimizing processes so that the energy available is effectively used. Energy efficiency should be viewed as important as sales, financials, marketing, human resources, etc, by all industries if they want to remain competitive in their market.
To ensure successful implementation of energy efficiency, professional strategies should be implemented by competent persons, who have maintained their knowledge in their field by ensuring they partake in Continued Professional Development (CPD) initiatives.