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On the road to professionalising the motor sector

Professionalising the motor sector in South Africa is a goal for the RMI and “we are working tirelessly to make this a reality in the near future,” says CEO Jakkie Oliver in his address for the March issue of Automobil.
For too long the role that professionals in the industry play has been undervalued and through professionalising we aim to change this. But what exactly is professionalisation? Basically, it’s a process by which any trade or occupation transforms itself into a true profession of the highest integrity and competence.
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 qualified professional 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. Of course there should also be increased consumer satisfaction as they get 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.
We also need to make working in the sector attractive for up and coming young people. Through professionalising we will change the traditional stereotypes and negative perceptions associated with a career in the industry.
So where are we in the process? In August last year we expressed an interest in being recognised by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) as a professional body. We then 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. The first six months of this year will be dedicated to the application to SAQA. We plan to initially start with at least one designation in the Automotive Sales and 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.
In order to meet SAQA requirements we need advocacy from all stakeholders. We have to define the role of the RMI as a professional body for retail motor industry practitioners in South Africa and register designations with SAQA. We also have to implement a process of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points to maintain the professional status. Lastly, 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.
As you can imagine, this is a big task before us but one we believe strongly is worth the effort. The benefits for the automotive industry, the RMI and our members are immense. For example, as a Professional Body we participate in SETAs as a Qualification Development partner and will be involved in retail motor industry curriculum and learning material development. We can 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. 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 individuals could also, by choice, become a member of a global automotive industry sector professional body over and above the RMI Professional Body membership.
It is an exciting time and we will keep you posted on developments in this space. I extend many thanks to all those involved in the process for your time and effort. We anticipate a future where working in the retail motor industry is regarded as a profession with clear career paths.