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Curiosity made a cleaner an apprentice

Mopping floors seemed to be her destiny until she sacrificed her lunch-hour to learn how mechanics worked on cars.
Nomthandazo Petros, a Motor Mechanics Apprentice at Taylor’s Automotive Services in Cape Town, was employed as a Cleaner but her thirst for knowledge presented her with an apprenticeship opportunity.
“I got interested in knowing how mechanics stripped car parts, fixed them and re-assembled them. So, I asked my manager, Mr William Taylor, if he could get someone to teach me,” she explains.
Petros was given an opportunity to learn how to work on cars during her lunch hour and when a motor mechanics apprenticeship opportunity arose, she was the first to be considered.
“This was a success-defining moment for me. I knew that the struggles I had endured over the years were about to become a thing of the past,” she says.
Petros started her apprenticeship training in March 2019, which is being funded by the merSETA. She describes this as an exciting opportunity because, although she has been working on cars for four years now, having a formal qualification will boost her chances of launching a successful career.

Petros (right) with Mogotsi Mokotedi (left), Senior lecturer Automotive at College of Cape Town

Having completed matric in 2012, Petros could not study further due to financial problems. She found herself embracing every employment opportunity at her disposal, due to a lack of qualifications. “I lost count of the number of CVs I handed out. Eventually, I had to settle for odd jobs, such as being a baby-sitter,” she explains.
Petros had a difficult upbringing, having been separated from her mother following the death of her father when she was only 11-years old. She was raised by her aunt, who also had five children, with her husband being the breadwinner.
“I had to share whatever was available with my cousins but despite the challenges, I continuously reminded myself that I had to better my life. This passion became even stronger after the birth of my son, who is now five-years old. Realising my dreams means that I will be able to provide him with a foundation for him to also realise his dreams,” she explains.
Petros believes that funded programmes provided by the merSETA alleviate the pressure on learners and parents who cannot afford further education. She explains: “With this kind of support, learners are able to push themselves to succeed. Interventions of this nature are important as skills are rare in our country and are often outsourced from other countries.

“My journey in life is an indication of how important it is for one to gear one’s mind towards success. I want my story to serve as a ‘beacon of hope’ for other young people who feel hopeless due to their circumstances, be it financial or otherwise. Our disadvantaged backgrounds should not define our future. What is important is not the challenges we have endured growing up but rather, what we choose to do with them going forward,” she says.
After completing her apprenticeship, Petrus wishes to pursue an autoelectrical qualification. “Industry has various opportunities that are interlinked. I want to be in a better position to access these opportunities easily and one day own an enginering workshop,” she concludes.