Since 2009, the South African Communication Industries Association (SACIA) has worked hard to uphold its mandate to promote the adoption of professional standards and ethical business practices within the broadcast communications industry across Southern Africa.
Executive director of SACIA, Kevan Jones has been on this journey since its inception. However, Jones insists that the spirit of the association dates back to a decade earlier in the nineties, when he was involved in setting up an informal group of broadcast engineers, who would get together and share insights on technology trends impacting the South African industry.
“We’d arrange studio visits, share information and publish research on technology applicable to the broadcast industry. Most of the people involved in that early group are now retired, but Kim Smith from Sasani and George Durant from Red Pepper are both still active as leaders in our Broadcast Industry Council. Of course we’ve expanded dramatically since those early days but our core vision remains the same: to promote the adoption of professional standards and ethical business practices in the communications industry across Southern Africa,” shares Jones.
This, they do by aligning themselves with similar associations around the world. They have also formed formal cooperation agreements with the IABM, AVIXA (previously InfoComm International), the International Moving Image Society (previously BKSTS) and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.
Through the years the association has been a member-driven association, bringing passionate people of the industry together through various activities.
Jones expands: “Our members are regular participants in some of the big international trade shows and we make sure we host regular events which allow them to share their knowledge and experience,” says Jones. “We also deliver regular training in collaboration with some of the world’s leading training providers – providing access to members on the trends and technologies shaping the future of the broadcast and AV industry.”
The IP and Networks course
SACIA has fully supported the transition from linear television to non-linear broadcasting. With this in mind, the association recently introduced the IP and Networks course, which takes a look at bespoke software and network interconnects based upon Internet Protocol (IP).
Jones comments: “The technologies being used in the broadcast industry are fundamentally changing from bespoke and costly tools that perform specialist tasks, to IP-based technology that’s way more affordable.”
“Whilst the benefits of IP technology are real, there are real challenges in integrating IP and network technologies into a traditional broadcast environment. Our new IP and networks course is designed to assist broadcasters making this transition.”
The first edition of the three-day course commenced in February this year, and covered the core fundamentals representing this network infrastructure for interconnections in a file‐based or streaming environment. Schedules of upcoming training dates are available on the SACIA website.
Redesigning old courses for future advancements
Apart from the new addition in IP, the association felt that they needed to redesign some courses to better address the ever-changing industry, and to tackle the latest developments and challenges faced by their members.
“Our AV industry training has been revised to better address the needs of the South African market, and our broadcast industry courses are in a constant state of development as new technology standards are introduced…However, we are also expanding our IP and Networks course to include a practical component which has been missing in previous deliveries,” shared Jones.
The association has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Tshwane University of Technology’s Arts Faculty. With this collaboration, the association aims to deliver even more professional development courses in partnership with the University. The deal will also help contribute to the development of the university’s curriculum in ensuring that it is relevant to the current needs of the industry.
Irrespective of all the changes and additions to their course offerings, the Broadcast and Media Workflows course continues to be a firm favourite, shares Jones, he anticipates that the course will remain the leading course for the year 2018.
Train the trainer initiative for veterans
As more and more established industry professionals reach their golden years and are thinking of retiring from the industry; SACIA insists that they should not hang their hats and deprive the world of their distinctive skills and well of wisdom. These professionals can now contribute to the industry through structured mentorship or by providing training programmes.
A three-day course that includes theory and experiential learning is given to these future trainers who have become experts in areas such as live sound, audio-visual, event safety, cinematography, outside broadcast, rigging, broadcast operations, lighting design and animation.
“The programme is really aimed at subject matter experts who are willing to share their knowledge and experience. We are actively looking to increase the range of short courses we’re able to offer the market. One of our objectives is to develop and deliver more short-courses aimed at the freelance community and anyone interested in becoming a trainer is a candidate for this course,” shares Jones.
Since the first course in May last year, the programme now boasts 50 professionals who have completed the programme.
The course is registered with the EDTPSETA (unit standard 117877) and once the participant has successfully completed their assessment they’ll receive a certificate from the SETA confirming their competence. In addition, the course is registered as part of SACIA’s professional development programme and individuals completing the course will earn CPD points that are used to maintain a SAQA-recognised professional designation.