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Where is the instrumentation interest?

It has become apparent that the skills shortage in the instrumentation industry needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later, writes Dirk Kuiper of IICA.

On the 20 June 2008 a meeting was organised between members of the Institute of Instrumentation Control and Automation (IICA) Victorian Division and representatives of Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) to discuss the reduction in the number of instrument technicians entering the workforce and the need to ensure that there is a future career path for the Instrumentation and control technician.

Following that initial meeting on 29th October 2008 a lunch meeting was held at Engineers House attended by 20 participants representing industry, contractors, training, education and IICA.

The discussion centered around the following four topics:

• The future path for the Instrumentation and Control Technician

• Review and recommendations of the exiting training resources

• Value to the corporate sector by introducing a professional recognition

• Strategies to secure the future of the Industry

The discussions proved to be very lively and many suggestions were made. In general the comments were that there seems to be little recognition of the instrumentation trade and not enough organisations are offering apprenticeships in instrumentation.

There are a number of courses available in instrumentation, but there are limited providers with several of these closing down over the past few years and there is not a national focus. It was suggested that the IICA should take the lead to identify all courses that are available and hold industry briefing sessions to increase the awareness.

Generally the group recognised the importance of having a professional accreditation or recognition for ongoing training and development in instrumentation. As a suggestion it was put forward to adopt a similar approach as the ISA in the USA within the IICA.

The group generally agreed there is a need to develop a strong and defined career path for those intending to begin an instrumentation technician apprenticeship. The dual trade process where Instrumentation seems to be an option is a big concern. This option dilutes the quality and work of the technician and reduces the profile of the instrument technician.

It was apparent the deficiency in skills can not wait much longer. This initial meeting was organized by the Victorian Division of the IICA, but the attendees strongly advocated a national approach in which the IICA should take the lead.

Dirk Kuiper

IICA vice president & Victorian Division chairperson

03 9017 8225

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