Workshop as catalyst for change
Belarus NC in full preparation of the 2015 IEC General Meeting
As part of its strategy to increase awareness of, and enhance participation in standards development work, the IEC made the decision to have regular training sessions for its members, experts and for the community at large. Three broad geographical regions were defined: Asia, the Americas and Europe. The programme, put in place by the IEC in 2012, picked up speed in 2013 with a series of training workshops in a total of 18 countries in Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa. Several sessions are already planned for 2014, the first of which was held in Belarus at the end of January.
The need to move forward, fast
The event was of particular importance to the Belarusian NC (National Committee), which will host the 2015 IEC GM (General Meeting) in Minsk. While preparations for the event are well underway, the NC felt it was essential to have some specific training to help improve the technical level and skills of their experts so that they can be more deeply involved in the standardization work performed by IEC TCs (Technical Committees) and SCs (Subcommittees). The ultimate goal for the Belarus NC, working closely with the relevant government agencies, is to make the country more attractive for investors.
Getting government agencies onboard
Organized by TISS (Technical Information Services and Support) and conducted by IEC Community Services Manager Jan-Henrik Tiedemann, the workshop proved to be a real success and a great incentive for the Belarusian business community to take a more active part in international standardization work.
All presentations were delivered by Jan-Henrik Tiedemann in English, with a translator providing the Russian version, while Yury Pashyk, Secretary of the Belarus NC, was giving comments and clarifications to the audience with respect to national specifics.
The first day of the event brought together several CEOs of major companies established in Belarus. The country has an important electrotechnical industry with a mix of local enterprises and multinational groups with subsidiaries active in this sector.
Tiedemann gave a brief introduction about the IEC and focused primarily on the strategic advantages brought by standardization and how to use these.
A win-win solution
Using International Standards in the manufacturing process and having their products tested and certified by one of the IEC CA (Conformity Assessment) Systems is a sure way of accessing markets faster and without the hassle of multiple testing, thus cutting costs and making Belarusian products more competitive in today’s globalized world.
Let your voice be heard
Active participation in the development of IEC International Standards provides the opportunity to have a say in formulating the specifications industry will have to work with in the future, rather than having competitors write these rules for them. The IEC provides a standardization platform where Belarus industry can have its voice heard and can become one of the players that count at the international level.
Most importantly, Tiedemann made sure his audience would leave the workshop with a common understanding of what standardization is about and how to benefit from active contribution. Mission accomplished, according to the positive feedback received from participants.
Understanding the importance of standards and CA
Also present at the workshop were government representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Industry. This was a great opportunity for the Belarus NC to show how important the upcoming 2015 IEC General Meeting is for the country, its economy and its industrial sector. Listening in and acquiring a better grasp of the issues at stakes was a real eye-opener for these officials. At the end of the workshop they confirmed that they would fully support the Belarus NC in its endeavor to organize an event that would unite over a thousand experts from all over the world. They understood that it will be a major occasion to prove the country’s commitment to international standardization and to showcase local industry successes.
Targeting technical experts
The second day was dedicated to a workshop for engineers. The main focus: why it is important to use standards and to participate in standardization work.
Tiedemann started by explaining in detail the IEC standards development process. He also spent time describing the three IEC CA Systems – IECEE, IECEx and IECQ – and the advantages of using them to test and certify goods, i.e. product safety, reliability, performance and energy efficiency, quicker market access and cost savings.
The second part of the day consisted of breakout sessions. Participants were divided into three groups, each being tasked with a specific assignment, i.e. if we were in charge of the Belarusian NC:
- what would we improve to increase participation of stakeholders in standardization work in Belarus
- how would we improve the IEC standardization tools?
- how would we improve the IEC standardization processes?
Brainstorming provides basis for action
The results, presented by the leader of each group, were outstanding. They went beyond all expectations, so much so that the NC Secretary, Pashyk, voiced his concerns about the current structure of his committee. He said that the workshop convinced him that the NC urgently needed some reorganizing, especially at the mirror committee level and in the voting process and that this had to be accomplished before the IEC GM in October 2015. He said that what came out of the breakout sessions actually gave him the basis to start working on the NC restructuring. The most important proposals from the breakout sessions participants were:
- Develop mechanisms (including a set of motivation mechanisms for experts on the one hand and companies on the other) for a more active involvement in IEC technical work on the part of interested stakeholders in Belarus, especially industrial enterprises.
- Create a harmonized standardization work system: National (Belarus) – Interstate (EASC) – International (IEC). Use IEC electronic tools on the national level for increased efficiency. Develop a system to finance technical committees and technical experts.
- Provide proper training and informational/technical support to the technical experts. Develop training programmes for engineers (including training programmes for universities).
- Reorganize the IEC National Committee of Belarus to increase its efficiency and achieve a leading role.
- Provide better visibility of IEC in Belarus: develop a set of visibility tools, including a website for the IEC Belarus NC; organize training workshops with the help of IEC experts and specially trained national experts.
- Develop mechanisms to increase learning and use of the English language by technical experts and students of technical universities.
- Utilize IEC electronic resources for the purpose of broader dissemination/use of IEC International Standards in Russian.
- More active and efficient use of IEC Rules and Procedures (standardization and conformity assessment) for the benefits of national stakeholders.
- Use the IEC training and experience sharing to the fullest extent and progressively integrate acquired knowledge and expertise in Belarus and the region.
A united front to boost the economy
For Pashyk and the Belarus NC, bringing onboard decision makers from industry and government, getting their support and commitment was essential. Having them fully understand the importance of improving the technical skills of local technical people, actively participating in IEC work, using IEC International Standards and CA Systems is the key to the development of the electrotechnical industry, which in turn will boost the country’s economy.