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Back on the road to professionalising the motor sector – a word from RMI’s CEO

Jakkie Olivier 1

Professionalising the motor sector in South Africa has been a goal of the RMI for some time now and we are committed to making this a reality in 2021. For too long the role that professionals play in the industry has been undervalued and through professionalising the sector we aim to change this. In early 2020 we explained that professionalisation is a process by which any trade or occupation transforms itself into a true profession of the highest integrity and competence.

As a professional body, the RMI will be able to register designations, recommend best practice and oversee the conduct of members of the profession. The end result will be acceptable designations that clearly demarcate the professional qualified from the unqualified and non-designated individual.

Now more than ever as a result of Covid we strongly believe that through skills development and professionalisation, we will see reduced unemployment, economic growth, better returns on investments for employers, more profits to employ more people, re-investment in business growth and sustainability. Of course there should also be increased consumer satisfaction and consumer peace of mind as they are assured of getting professional services and advice. Whether it be when buying a vehicle, parts or equipment or when repairing, servicing and maintaining their vehicles, it will all be managed by professionals.  For our own members, this improves their status and makes them more marketable and attractive to the trade.

We need to make working in the sector attractive for up and coming young people too through professionalising we will change the traditional stereotypes and negative perceptions associated with a career in the industry and our professional body will enjoy the same status as all other professional bodies do.

Our plans were unfortunately delayed last year with Covid. We are now, for all intents and purposes, with the vaccine rollout happening, in our Post Covid phase and feel comfortable to revisit this important initiative. We agreed at our last Board meeting in March that we need to move ahead and will be ready to launch in July 2021.

We have already expressed our interest in being recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as a professional body and given them notice of our intention.

We will initially start with at least one designation in the Automotive Sales & Support Services field. Other designations including technical jobs will follow. Part of being a Professional Body is to implement a process of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points for members to maintain their professional status on an annual basis.  Various policies that cover recognition of prior learning, NQF levels, national standards of designations, work experience, CPD and more are already completed and ready for implementation.

As you can imagine, implementation and roll out is a big task but one we believe is worth the effort. The benefits for the automotive industry, the RMI and our members are immense. For example, as a Professional Body we can participate in SETAs as a Qualification Development partner and be involved in retail motor industry curriculum and learning material development.

There will also be access to a wealth of information and global recognition through this process. Our already strong working relationships with alliance partners and stakeholders such as the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), the National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB) and the Motor Industry Bargaining Council (MIBCO) etc.  will strengthen the retail motor industry professions.

It is an exciting time and we will keep the industry posted on developments in this space as we build up towards our July launch. I extend many thanks to all those involved in the process for your time and effort and for your patience over the last year when our planning came to a halt. We anticipate a future where working in the retail motor industry is regarded as a profession with clear career paths.