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I have an N6 in mechanical engineering with welding red seal - Do I qualify for the GCC factories?

Updated: Feb 26, 2021

In some of our posts, we discussed:

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

The purpose of this post is to present the specific GCC Factories requirements for persons with a national technical diploma (N6) in mechanical engineering and a welding red-seal. GCC Factories offers a unique opportunity to fast-track your career as a qualified welder.

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 wait until 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 older than three months from submitting your application.

2. You must illustrate good conduct during your career

You need to 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 mechanical engineering (Technical College Course)

It is a requirement to have a National Technical N6 diploma in mechanical engineering. You must have scored at least 50% on all subjects. If not, you will need to redo the subjects where you scored less than 50%.

Note: The welder occupational certificate issued by QCTO is NQF level 4. This means that you will need to complete your N5 and N6 that will make you eligible to obtain a N6 mechanical engineering technical diploma.

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

National Technical N6 diploma in mechanical engineering have many trades they can elect as part of their trade test. The acceptable mechanical trades include:

  • Welder

  • Boilermaker

  • Millwright

  • Turner

  • Fitter etc.

Welder with red-seal is therefore an acceptable trade that may obtain the GCC Factories.

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5. You must have experience in the maintenance and operation of mechanical or electrical machinery, as listed under the trade (to the satisfaction of the Commission of Examiners)

Having a welding red-seal is an acceptable trade. However, you will need to have at least four (4) years of mechanical or electrical machinery maintenance and operations experience. It is alright if the experience is only on maintenance and operation of mechanical machinery. The logical direction for welders is to move into mechanical maintenance and operations.

Note: The experience starts counting from when you obtained your red-seal and started working in mechanical maintenance and operations. The experience gained during training or before obtaining your trade certificate does not count. The experience gained as a welder also does not count.

You need to articulate your experience in your letter of experience clearly. Makes sure that you emphasize your mechanical maintenance and operation experience.

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

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

  • Locating sources of problems by observing mechanical devices in operation, listening for problems, and 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 part 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 mechanical maintenance reports,

  • Plan and execute plant or machinery overhauls,

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

  • Operating the plant and machinery safely and ensuring good housekeeping is maintained.

For mechanical candidates, the maintenance & operation work needs to be on mechanical machinery and installation, e.g., boilers, pressure vessels, pumps, conveyor belts, etc.

Suppose you are in doubt that your experience is appropriate. In that case, 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 an answer 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 worked in, e.g., "I worked at Eskom Majuba Power Station..."

What type of working environment meets 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.,

This requirement's vital aspect is that the environment needs to be some production environment or boiler plant or bulk material environment. You must be responsible for ensuring that the mechanical 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 an answer 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%

The most significant confusion is the subject requirements for National Technical Diploma (N6) applicants.

The minimum subjects that GCC factories mechanical applicants with a National Technical Diploma (N6) in mechanical engineering need to have are:

  • N3 engineering drawing

  • N4 engineering science

  • N4 industrial electronics

  • N4 mathematics

  • N5 fluid mechanics

  • N5 electro-technics

  • N6 control systems

  • N6 mechanotechnics

  • N6 power machines

  • N6 strength of materials

  • N6 fluid mechanics

  • N6 supervisory management

It is essential to note the NQF level at which these subjects. For example, you could have done draughting (i.e., engineering drawing) at NQF level 5. If that is the case, you may meet the engineering drawing's subject requirement (N3, NQF level 2).

Note: The above subjects may have pre-requisite. The Department of Employment and Labour will evaluate that you have the above subjects. And the TVET college needs to ensure that you have the pre-requisite subjects to deem your qualification and the above subjects valid.


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, 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 for the Department of Employment and Labour to respond.

As a red-seal welder with a National Technical Diploma (N6), you will apply for the Certificate of Competency as Mechanical Engineer (Factories) (GCC Factories in mechanical engineering).

It is essential at this point that you review:

The above will help get 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.

1 Comment

Unknown member
Apr 01, 2021

i would like to know that how many subjects are required to apply for GCC? Like is it 12, 14, 16 or 18 subjects?

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