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In a world constantly defined by new technological developments, College of Cape Town has made significant strides to keep up with the times.
The college was selected by the Department of Higher Education and Training in 2017 to pilot a Centre of Specialisation (COS) project in the fields of Automotive Repair Maintenance and Plumbing, under the Artisan of the 21st Century (A21) programme.
Although the college is the first to rollout the project, the aim is to have it distributed to all colleges across the country. This follows a team of conveners’ review to determine which colleges would best be suited to implement the task.
Mokgotsi Mokotedi, Senior Lecturer in the Automotive Department of the college says A21 is a new programme with a new curricular. They were given a task to ensure that their infrastructure, facilities, facilitators, tools and equipment align with the latest technological trends in the market, so as to be able to meet the set requirements to train artisans of the 21st century.
“Location played a key role in the selection of the colleges in terms of which skill is required in a particular area, in order to feed into the mainstream economy,” he says.
He continues to explain that the COS project aligns with technological developments around the world, such as Industry 4.0 and that industry partnership was instrumental in ascertaining a flow between what is being taught at the colleges and what industry requires.
The project was rolled out in April 2019. Under this project, artisans have to be trained in specialised fields that have been deemed scarce in artisan development, following a drop in this skills set. College of Cape Town is currently training 30 apprentices, with funding from the merSETA.
According to Rasheed Adhikari, COS Facilitator in the automotive field at the college, COS is a completely new project based on a dual system. “The artisans are contracted with various companies across the province. They get the best of both worlds in that they are provided with theoretical and practical training at the college, and then apply the knowledge they have acquired at their workplaces,” he explains.
Gameed Salie, who is also a COS Facilitator in the automotive field says that in the 30 years that he has been working in the motor trade, he realised that things constantly evolve in the industry and teaches the apprentices to adapt to the change.
“They need to be critical thinkers, not just mechanics or they will become redundant,” he says.
Nomthandazo Petros is one of the female apprentices whose entry into the automotive field is a remarkable story. She started working as a cleaner at Taylor’s Auto in Cape Town but says she realised she was destined for better things. “I used to watch mechanics fixing cars during my lunch break and noticing my interest, the manager asked me to assist. The rest is history,” she says.
Her fellow apprentices, Sipho Myeki, Ralton Fraai and Johan Nthako say that they are intrigued by this new development and are proud to be the first ones to go through the training.
Mokotedi concludes by saying: “This is the beginning of greater things to come for artisans across the country. A lot of investment has gone into the programme, which provides a stepping stone for them to change their lives for the better.”