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Excitement builds for East London Motor Mech Show at Port Rex

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With just under two weeks to go, excitement is building in preparation for the third successive Motor Mech show which is once again being held by the Motor Industry Workshop Association (MIWA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), at the Port Rex Technical High School in East London on 15 June. The event happens every year close to or on Youth Day – a day specifically selected as a symbol of youth empowerment. 

Teresa Spenser Higgs, MIWA Regional Vice Chairperson for the Eastern Cape says Motor Mech is the ideal showcase for the automotive industry to attract upcoming and aspiring mechanics, and to demonstrate how passionate our industry is about training and drawing young talent into the sector. “We are serious about fostering future careers in the automotive industry and it is a privilege to be collaborating once again with Port Rex Technical High School on this event,” she says.

Spenser Higgs, who arranges the show with fellow MIWA Training Representative Cliffie Jacobs and Peter Van Mosseveld, RMI MIWA Representative for Eastern Cape, says that this year’s show will be no different to the last two years where the response was overwhelmingly positive. “We will once again be proudly supported by RMI sister associations, TEPA and NADA and ARA, who will also take part in the event, displaying their parts, accessories and new vehicle offerings respectively. This year we are delighted to have the local SPCA on board. They will be managing the Kiddies area for us and all funds raised in that area will go to the SPCA for the incredible work they do,” she says.

Jason Bekker, a Mechanical Technology Educator at Port Rex Technical High School says at a time when many young people are struggling to find employment, the value of a technical education can never be underestimated.  It is the perfect balance of theory and practice. Port Rex Technical High School offers, and makes the subjects required for all major engineering fields mandatory for learners to take up to their matric year. This is unlike other main stream academic schools, as Port Rex Technical High School focuses on developing skills, both by hand and by mind, giving them pathways into mechanical or automotive engineering at varsity or an easier entry into an apprenticeship or learnership once they complete school.  Learners who pass matric at Port Rex Technical High School receive a N3 certificate once they complete their schooling successfully. “Once a learner leaves Port Rex Technical High School after completing matric they would be able to jump straight into N4 level Mechanical Engineering diploma studies at a college as they would have achieved the N3 provided they passed,” he says.

He says to succeed you have to have a passion for the industry and be willing to get your hands dirty and work hard. “This is a very labour-intensive career choice but technical education is so valuable because it provides students with practical skills and knowledge that are directly applicable to the workforce, increasing their employability and earning potential. It also helps bridge the gap between education and what industry needs, ensuring a skilled workforce for various sectors.”

As a teacher, Bekker says the excitement in technical education comes from witnessing students develop an interest in acquiring practical skills; using their hands while at school, then seeing them succeed in their further education wherever that may lead them to eventually thrive as engineers or automotive artisans. It’s great to see pupils that I’ve had a hand in guiding, go on to contribute and shape a skilled workforce for the future,” he says.

Bekker says Port Rex Technical High School is delighted to be collaborating with MIWA for the third year. “Shows like this are extremely important as first and foremost it’s very rare that schools and the private automotive industry get together and collaborate and give learners an exciting platform to kick start their careers. It’s really a special relationship as learners get a huge head start once they complete their schooling due to the many eyes drawn to these shows and for those who excel, apprenticeship opportunities literally fall at their feet. It is a privilege to work with an organization like MIWA and the RMI. We need our technical schools and colleges to align more closely with industry by updating their curricula to reflect current industry needs. Local industry can offer apprenticeships or work-study programmes, fostering partnerships with other businesses, and even perhaps provide professional development opportunities for us as educators,” says Bekker.

Commenting on the competition itself, Spenser Higgs says the structure of the show will follow a similar format as previously. 12 competitors will participate in the preliminary round. Nine competitors will then be eliminated over the next two rounds (six during the first round and three in the second), leaving the top three to battle it out in a nail-biting final. 

In addition to the competition there will be car displays from dealers, workshops displaying their wares as well as part suppliers and other suppliers in the motor industry.

Spectators will also be given plenty of opportunities to participate in lucky draws and there will be a convenient hospitality arena and a children’s area to keep the smaller kids occupied.

“If you are in the area on the day, we would love to welcome you to the event. Come and support the students competing for the title!,” says Spenser Higgs. 

Doors open at 09:00 until 14:00 at Port Rex Technical High School, 55 Chamberlain Road in Vincent and entry is only R20 per adult. Kids u/12 free if accompanied by an adult.

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Teresa Spenser Higgs, MIWA Regional Vice Chairperson for the Eastern