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Apprentices powering ahead in motor industry

Apprentices are getting first-hand experience, training and mentoring in the independent aftermarket sector of the motor industry thanks to an initiative that has been two years in the making.
At the end of 2016, the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA) entered into discussions with Bidvest McCarthy regarding training needs and possible solutions for the independent aftermarket. A year later in 2017, 31 companies and 91 apprentices had applied for funding of which 22 apprentice grants were awarded. To date 16 apprentices are currently in training on the full four-year apprenticeship programme with a further 18 apprentices having just received their grant awards. They will start their four-year apprenticeship programme in January 2019.  “There are also five Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning grants that have been awarded,” says Ilze Botha, Group Training Manager, Bidvest McCarthy.
She explains that the Bidvest Automotive Artisans Academy has been assisting MIWA member companies with discretionary grant applications. “In most instances we have been appointed as the Skills Development Facilitator (SDF) for the company. In this capacity we assist the company with all the administration to apply for the grants. We also assisted one company, Bogner Motors, through a ‘train the trainer’ process so they were able to submit the documents on their own. This is the longer-term approach for the other companies to get them trained to submit their own grant applications in the future.  Where companies already had an appointed SDF they managed the grant application process on their own,” she says.
Dewald Ranft, Director of MIWA, a constituent association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says the aim of this initiative was to address the artisan skills shortage in the country. “It takes four years to train an apprentice so this really is a long-term plan and we are pleased with the progress made this far,” he says.
For many years the industry depended on the larger dealer bodies to train and qualify artisans but this has proved to no longer be sustainable. Less people are entering the industry and at the top end qualified artisans are recruited by companies abroad.  “Currently there are also many people who have been working in the industry for years without a formal trade certificate. Our aim is to make formal training the norm so we can improve the industry’s credibility and promote it as a professional career which in turn will attract youngsters to the industry,” says Ranft.
“If we really want to be successful in addressing the skills deficit in SA, all stakeholders in the industry need to participate and create opportunities for youngsters who are passionate about the industry and need to be trained formally,” concludes Botha.