Mustek subsidiary Rectron has teamed up with Chinese drone maker DJI to launch a drone academy in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.

The academy will offer three courses that aim to enhance the skills and proficiency of drone pilots. The courses offer a “remotely piloted aircraft systems maintenance technician” certification, remote pilot’s licence and “beyond visual line of sight” certification.

The duration of each course is three or four months and covers theoretical and practical training. At a launch event in Midrand on Friday, Rectron highlighted the challenges the drone industry faces, including a shortage of skilled professionals, limited applications in rural areas as well as regulatory hurdles. The company wants to promote the further use of drones across industries as it continues to diversify its business as a distributor of ICT products, including drones.

Rectron is offering learnerships aimed at enhancing the digital skills of the youth, too. According to Andre Witbooi, learning and development manager at Rectron, the construction, agriculture and insurance sectors are the top three industries in South Africa that depend on drones. Nevertheless, the shortage of skilled drone pilots and technicians is a significant impediment to the industry’s further growth.

“As the world moves towards a more digital economy, we need to ensure our youth have the right skills to take part in it,” said Witbooi. “The Rectron Drone Academy aims to provide relevant training for a future-proof career in the drone space. For many businesses that need to survey large areas, drones offer a cost-effective alternative to helicopters and aircraft.

“When it came to structuring the courses, we consulted with the NTSU Drone Academy and DJI to ensure students have the right foundations and training to forge a career path as a professional. All our courses are accredited with the South African Civil Aviation Authority.”

Thandanani Manyathi, regional coordinator at the Media, Information and Communication Technologies Sector Education and Training Authority (MICT Seta), highlighted the contribution of South Africa’s commercial drone industry to job creation and the economy. 

Manyathi said drones are beneficial in agriculture as they increase efficiency, precision and reliability of crop farming.

Although drone regulations have been enforced in South Africa, the rapid evolution of the industry makes it difficult for regulations to keep up with the technology, according to the Drone Council of South Africa.

The Rectron Drone Academy in Midrand will admit its first cohort of five students on 20 February, and students who have completed matric can enrol for the courses. Although it is not a prerequisite, having a background in maths and science is advantageous for admission.  – NewsCentral Media