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On the road to professionalising the motor sector

The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), which represents 7,500 member businesses in the motor sector in South Africa, is pushing hard to transform the organisation into a professional body.

Jakkie Olivier, RMI CEO, says the role that professionals in the industry play has been undervalued for too long now and through professionalising the industry it aims to change this. “Like any trade or occupation there is the opportunity to transform into a true profession of the highest integrity and competence. We anticipate a future where working in the retail motor industry is regarded as a profession with clear career paths.”

Olivier says as a professional body, the RMI will 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.

“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,” he says. “Of course this will lead to increased consumer satisfaction from the high level of 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.”

He adds that with employment being such a key issue in South Africa, it is important to be able to attract the necessary talent into the sector and make working in the sector attractive for up and coming young people. “We believe through professionalising we will change the traditional stereotypes and negative perceptions associated with a career in the industry,” he says. 

The RMI has already started the process. In August 2018 it expressed an interest in being recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as a professional body. “We contracted the services of an expert to prepare the SAQA application and to assist the RMI in Professional Body-readiness. IT platform development has also started to ensure compatibility to the National Learner’s Records Database of SAQA,” says Olivier.

He says the RMI has dedicated the last couple of months to finalising the application to SAQA. “We plan to initially start with at least one designation in the Automotive Sales & Support Services field. Other designations including technical jobs will follow. Once implemented, the project will run in close liaison with the Institute for the Motor Industry (IMI) UK. We need to prove that our level of professionalism is comparable internationally. We are currently working on three must-have policies that cover recognition of prior learning, NQF levels, national standards of designations, work experience, CPD and more,” explains Olivier.

The entire process is being rolled out in close collaboration with all its various stakeholders and includes the implementation of an ongoing process of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points to maintain the professional status.

Olivier believes the benefits for the automotive industry, the RMI and its members are immense. “For example,” he says, “as a Professional Body the RMI can participate in SETAs as a Qualification Development partner and be involved in retail motor industry curriculum and learning material development. It can then develop professional designations and register these on the National Learners’ Records Database (NLRD) at SAQA.” 

There will also be access to a wealth of information and global recognition through this process which can be shared amongst members. “We are busy garnering close working relationships with alliance partners and stakeholders such as DHET, SETAs, QCTO, NAMB, MIBCO etc. which will strengthen the retail motor industry professions. We also envisaged the opportunity for the individuals to become IMI UK Professional Body members. This means that such individual could also by choice become a member of a global automotive industry sector professional body over and above the RMI Professional Body membership,” concludes Olivier.