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I have an N6 in electrical and wanted to find out if I'd be allowed to pursue my GCC factories

Updated: Feb 26, 2021


In previous posts, I managed to discuss:

The above content is "generic" and requires that you swift through the information to find out what really applies to your specific case.

So, I thought I should personalise the GCC factories' requirements.


GCC Factories applicants with a national technical diploma (N6) in electrical engineering have a unique opportunity to fast-track their careers by obtaining the GCC factories.


I think the most significant confusion comes within the subject requirements and I will address this matter in detail.


Here is the summary of GCC factories requirements for an electrician with N6 wishing to obtain the GCC factories:


1. You must be at least 23 years of age


Ok, this one is simple, open your Identity Document (ID). Take the difference between your year of birth & the application year. If the difference is less than 23, you do not meet this requirement and should wait till you meet the minimum age requirement.


You will need to submit a certified copy of your ID or Passport to demonstrate that you meet this requirement. Make sure that the ID certification is not done longer than three months from submitting your application.


2. You must illustrate good conduct during the course of your career


Complete the letter of sobriety and get it signed by your employer.



3. You must be in the position of a National Technical N6 diploma in electrical engineering (Technical College Course)


You need to have a National Technical N6 diploma in electrical engineering and must have passed all the subjects by at least 50%.


Unfortunately, the Department of Employment and Labour does not accept electronics (light current) candidates. Candidates with a National Technical Diploma (N6) in light current can still obtain their GCC Factories provided that:

  • they complete the pre-requisite subjects that cover heavy current or power engineering amongst others,

  • serve an apprenticeship in relevant trade (e.g. Instrument Mechanician or electrician), and

  • Obtain the necessary maintenance and operation experience (Note: experience will start counting after receiving the necessary trade).


4. You must have served in an apprenticeship in appropriate trade.


National Technical N6 diploma in electrical engineering usually elects to be a qualified electrician as their form of trade. Qualified electricians are acceptable tradesmen.


ACCEPTABLE TRADES AND EXPERIENCE
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5. You must have experience in the maintenance and operation of mechanical or electrical machinery, as listed in accordance with the trade (to the satisfaction of the Commission of Examiners)


Qualified electricians must have at least 2 years of experience in the maintenance and operation of mechanical or electrical machinery. It is alright if the experience is only on maintenance and operation of electrical machinery.


NOTE: The experience is counted after you have received your trade certificate. Experience gained during training or before obtaining your trade certificate does not count.


This is where the experience record and letter of experience comes in. In these two documents, you need to clearly articulate the work YOU carried out that relates to maintenance and operation.



So, what type of maintenance & operation work is considered appropriate? Examples of appropriate maintenance & operation work include:

  • Plan and prepare worksite, equipment, tools, consumables, and materials for electrical activities and operations.

  • Install, wire, and connect electrical equipment and control systems.

  • Test and inspect electrical equipment, control systems, and installations.

  • Commission control systems and installations.

  • Maintain and repair electrical equipment, control systems, and installations.

  • Planning and execution of preventative maintenance activities e.g. heat monitoring, oil monitoring, period plant visual inspections, ensuring machinery is operated within agreed parameters, etc.

  • Locating sources of problems by observing electrical devices in operation, listening for problems, using precision measuring and testing instruments.

  • Planning and execution of removal of defective parts or machinery from the plant.

  • Carrying out quality control during the repair or manufacture of parts or machinery.

  • Developing parts or machinery specifications.

  • Ensuring compliance of parts or machinery to specifications, standards, and regulations.

  • Control downtime by monitoring Mean Time Between Failures and taking corrective actions.

  • Ensure there are sufficient spares available for critical equipment.

  • Prepare electrical maintenance reports.

  • Plan and execute plant or machinery overhauls.

  • Plan and execute plant capital (CAPEX) and operational (OPEX) projects.

  • Ensure that plant is operated safely and good housekeeping is maintained.

For electrical candidates, the maintenance & operation work needs to be on electrical machinery and installation e.g. transformers, motors, wiring, cables, etc.


If you are in doubt that your experience is appropriate, I will advise that you submit your application to the Department of Labour Commission of Examiners. This way, you will receive a comprehensive response to your eligibility. It may take anywhere between 4 to 8 weeks to get a response from the Department of Labour.


6. You must have at least 1-year experience in a factory


This one year experience in a factory could be part of the minimum required post qualification experience. In other words, requirements stated under 5 and 6 may be concurrent.


You will indicate your experience in a factory by stating it in your letter of experience. In the letter, make sure you clearly state the type of environment you working in e.g. "I worked at Eskom Majuba Power Station..."


So, what type of working environment may be considered as meeting the requirements of working in a factory environment? Here are a few examples:

  • Working in a power station e.g. Eskom generation, Sasol boiler plant, Tongaat Boiler plant etc.

  • Working in a chemical processing plant e.g. Sasol, BASF, SAB, etc.

  • Working in a fabrication plant e.g. Arcelormittal, John Thompson Boilers, etc.

  • Working in an FMCG plant e.g. Unilever, Nestle, P&G, etc.

  • Working in an electrical distribution or transmission e.g. Eskom, cogeneration substations, etc.

The important aspect of this requirement is that the environment needs to be some sort of production environment or electrical distribution or transmission. You must be responsible for ensuring that the electrical machinery and installation are operating correctly and are maintained.


When in doubt, submit your application to the Department of Labour Commission of Examiners. This way, you will receive a comprehensive response on your eligibility. It may take anywhere between 4 to 8 weeks to get a response from the Department of Labour.

7. You must pass all plant engineering TVET college subjects by at least 50% and passed the prescribed TVET subjects by at least 50%


Here comes the tricky part. The GCC factories electrical applicants TVET college subjects that need to have are:

  • N3 engineering drawing

  • N4 engineering science

  • N4 mathematics

  • N5 Strength of materials

  • N6 control systems

  • N6 mechanotechnics

  • N6 power machines

  • N6 Industrial electronics

  • N6 Electrotechnics

  • N6 supervisory management

It is important to note the NQF level at which these subjects are at.


For example, you could have done draughting (i.e. engineering drawing) at NQF level 5. If that is the case, then you may meet the subject requirement for engineering drawing (N3, NQF level 2).


NOTE: The above subjects may have pre-requisite subjects. The Department of Employment and Labour will evaluate that you have the above subjects.


Conclusion


Remember, you need to formally apply with the Department of Employment and Labour to be allowed to write the Government Certificate of Competency Factories exams. I found that many candidates waste a lot of time trying to work out if they have all the subjects.


My advice is simple - When in doubt, just submit your application with the Department of Employment and Labour and you will receive a comprehensive response on your eligibility. It may take anywhere between 4 to 8 weeks to get a response from the Department of Employment and Labour.


As an electrician with N6, you will apply for the Certificate of Competency as Electrical Engineer (Factories). This is also referred to as GCC Factories in electrical engineering.


It is important at this point that you review:


This will assist with getting a better understanding of the requirements and bring you one step closer to getting your Government Certificate of Competency (GCC) factories letter of acceptance from the Department of Employment and Labour.

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