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.

Why use an accredited vehicle repairer or dealership?

 Here’s why…
You are looking for a mechanical workshop, motor body repairer, or even to buy a new car and you don’t know where to start. Well, accreditation is a good place to start, says Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).
“By using a business accredited by a reputable association such as the RMI, you can be assured of good workmanship and recourse in the unlikely event that the job is not completed to acceptable standards,” he says. “Accredited businesses will be run by highly-skilled professionals, with excellent service-levels, administrative support and quality parts and repair equipment.”
He explains that during the accreditation process a business undergoes a thorough assessment. Aspects including the health and safety operating procedures are scrutinised, as are the premises, tools and equipment, administration, waste removal, staffing and so on. Even aspects of the business such as insurance of the client’s vehicle whilst on the property of the repairer, parking facilities, lighting, ventilation and uniforms are inspected.
“It is a rigorous process that we believe is essential to ensure customers know they are dealing with professionals and feel protected,” he says.
The level of staff training is also an important aspect of the accreditation process.
“Unfortunately, skills shortages are a reality. To achieve accreditation, businesses have to prove their staff have sufficient training and on-the-job experience as well as specific qualifications to meet the needs of their customers,” says Olivier.
Possibly the most important benefit of using an accredited business is the knowledge that there is an association you can deal with in the event of a bad service or poor workmanship experience.
“Owning a motor vehicle or a fleet is a big investment. The purchase price alone is a major financial commitment and repairs don’t come cheap,” says Olivier. “It is therefore very important that you can trust the repairer to do the best job at the most affordable price. If this is not your experience then you need to approach the accrediting association, such as the RMI, to assist in a dispute resolution process. The same applies when buying a car. If you are not happy with the product or promises have not been met by the selling agent then there is a body to hear your side of the story.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for proof of accreditation when considering a business. Alternatively contact the accrediting body and ask for a referral in your area. It is worth the extra admin to ensure you receive the service you deserve,” he concludes.

Kwalata Trade Day Set For 12 May

The much anticipated 2012 Kwalata Trade Day takes place on 12 May. During interactions and discussions with members the need was expressed to again host a trade day at Kwalata Game Range.
ERA, MIWA and SADFIA have decided to host such a regional event as part of their national roadshow. Due to the ever changing business environment it was also decided to welcome all other associations within the RMI to partake in the day’s event as there are quite a number of issues which are relevant to all sectors within the motor industry.
The motivation behind the trade day has always been to build lasting relationships between customers and their loyal suppliers; the promotion and interaction of RMI members and the sharing of ideas and interest and; the creation of a platform for network opportunities among all relevant parties.
The aim of the day is to achieve the above in a relaxed, enjoyable yet educational manner. The success of the trade day in the past can be attributed to the fact that, from a member point of view, the RMI has attracted mainly decision-makers and trendsetters while its suppliers who participate proved to be reputable and leaders in their respective fields.
From a business point of view the RMI have always managed to cover a variety of contemporary issues with the emphasis on technical information. The organisation have also taken care to develop special consideration to a fun filled ladies program as it is important to spoil the ladies while delegates are networking with fellow RMI members and suppliers.
The event starts at 14:00pm and is followed by dinner and entertainment. The cost is R550 per main delegate. Accompanying partners are free. Regrettably, no provisions have been made for children.
Should you choose not return home after the evening, please contact Kwalata directly to make a booking on 012-711-8200 or visit www.kwalata.co.za For the more adventurous, a game drive can be booked on the day for R150 per person.
For delegate bookings and more information please contact Wilma on 012-348-9311 or email wilma.oosthuizen@rmi.org.za