Giving youth the opportunity – a word from RMI’s CEO

One of the main focal points last month was President Cyril Ramphosa’s State of the Nation Address followed by the 2022/2023 budget speech.

As the largest employer association in the automotive aftermarket sector, we welcomed details in SONA regarding the envisaged Presidential Employment Stimulus programmes.

As you will be aware the call was for the private sector to assist with workplace exposure of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) graduates which is very much aligned with the work we have been doing.

The aftermarket sector has many opportunities for young people to gain this critical work exposure following graduation,  but for the programme to really flourish in this country there needs to be an ongoing commitment from both industry and educational institutions. The RMI has done a lot of work to promote and encourage cooperation between the private sector and TVET training institutions in this regard.

As part of the TVET learner’s obligations to receive a certificate, the relevant time in the workplace needs to be recorded and communicated with the learner’s higher education institution.  We are aware of pockets of excellence among large and corporate employers but would like to encourage especially small employers to open their doors for TVET students’ work exposure requirement towards certification.

When you consider there are are more than 22 000 registered employers in the  automotive aftermarket sector with Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMME)  forming  by far the majority of the registered employers, there is no doubt that our sector can contribute significantly towards the 10 000 internship target outlined by Government across all the various sectors.

There may however need to be a relaxation on certain unrealistic regulatory compliance costs which are stifling sustainability and growth and a review of the current employment tax incentive ceiling to make participation more attractive to prospective employers, particularly the smaller employers. The relaxation on all the red tape surrounding our sector has been something we have been lobbying for over the last two years.

The retail motor industry is one sector that is currently looking for skills and offers many  different careers for South African youth.  Our industry is developing rapidly, mainly as a result of technological advancements of newer vehicles.  Workplace exposure for these TVET N6 students will  allow an employer to experience first-hand the possible fit between the learner and the businesses and this could lead to permanent employment. It will also address problems many young people face getting permanent employment without being able to demonstate actual work experience.  

At present, our industry invests a significant amount in training and internships. With the right incentives and loosening up of unsustainable compliance costs, this is a sector which is willing and able to invest in skills, provide much needed employment and growth in SMMEs.