Highly skilled man builds car with no formal qualification

Deep in the belly of Limpopo Province in Ga-Mphahlele village, lies a rough diamond waiting to be refined. Kamogelo Mmowa is a 35-year-old young man whose courage, ambitious character and determination saw him build a car from scratch in 2016, despite having no formal qualification and funding.
“I was not sure that I would be able to see this project to its completion due to lack of resources and funding, let alone have the car wheel through the dusty streets of my village,” says Mmowa.

Kamogelo Mmowa fixing a cracked manifold exhaust system from one of his customer’s bakkies

Because of his passion for fixing cars, Mmowa started assisting mechanics in his neighbourhood and received a small income. He then bought an engine with the little money he had saved, used the knowledge he had acquired and old scrapped car parts he had collected, to build the car.
Mmowa’s car, which he has coined ‘Buraki2’, has driven as far as Tshwane in Gauteng Province, when he took it to the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) for evaluation and approval.
“Getting the car approved for road worthiness has been ongoing and I hope to get this process to the ‘end of the road’ soon,” he says.
Kamogelo explaining the mechanical parts of Bukari 2 and how the engine works

Despite his exceptional talent and zeal, Mmowa struggles to secure employment due to lack of a qualification. He is also unable to secure funding to start his own workshop due to not having a stable source of income.
Mmowa’s story is goose-bump inducing and gives meaning to the saying: “where there is a will, there is a way”.
He failed Grade 8 four times but still, he soldiered on. He developed a passion for working with his hands while in high school; fixing radios, bicycles and wheelbarrows, amongst other things.
While in high school, one of his teachers tasked him with fixing one of his generators, which he was able to do on the first attempt. He explains that although he was hesitant at first, he was honoured to be entrusted with such a responsibility.
“My teacher was so happy that I managed to fix the generator, he paid me with another one of his broken generators. I thought fixing the first generator was by chance but being able to fix the second one was a ‘eureka’ moment for me – my potential was unleashed,” explains Mmowa.
Upon failing Grade 8 for the fifth time, Mmowa retired from school and concentrated his energy on what he loved the most – working with cars. His first big project, he explains, was building a motor bike using the engine from the generator he had received as a gift from his teacher.
Mmowa explains that although he does not have a formal qualification, motorists from his village and beyond trust his abilities such that they bring their cars to his house forrepairs.

Mmowa showing parts of the first car he built, Bukari 1
Mmowa showing off a Bending Machine which he built from scratch

“My goal at the moment is to obtain a formal qualification so that I can build my own workshop and receive accreditation,” he says.
Mmowa explains that his greatest mentor has been his father, who used to fix electrical appliances in his village.
“I used to watch him while he worked and I would pick up the small materials he threw away to make things such as wired cars, small kettles and the likes from them,” he says.
He explains that his hope for making a success of his career was recently ignited when he was approached by Isaac Boshomane, a merSETA Motor Chamber member who has shown great interest in assisting him reach his goals. He was due to begin training with Boshomane at Kgabo Cars in January 2019, which would ultimately see him qualify as a motor mechanic artisan.

Mmowa in his ‘brainchild’, Buraki 2

The AA And MerSETA Join Forces

The Automobile Association Technical College (AATC) and Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (MerSETA) have joined forces to assist small companies within South Africa. The two entities have started an apprenticeship training programme that aims to create skilled artisans within the Diesel Mechanic, Motor Mechanic and Auto Electrician trades.
MerSETA accredited companies and Service Delivery Levy (SDL) exempt companies will receive the grants for the training from MerSETA and the AATC will conduct the training at the college in Midrand.
“SA’s skills shortage is a prevalent topic that continues to gather debate, as seen in the 2012 Budget Speech. The AA’s main focus is the consumer and we want to get more qualified artisans into the industry, to improve the quality of service,” says Derek Hall-Jones, DM: Road Services and Technical at the AA. “The partnership looks to improve the state of the shortage and bring in more qualified artisans by assisting businesses who do not have the resources to apply for grants, and do not always see the value in training apprentices.”
As MerSETA supply the grants, companies that are current MerSETA levy payers, or companies that are exempt from paying levies, and with a payroll of less that R 500,000 per annum, qualify for this training.
MerSETA will supply the apprentices through their Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) beneficiary’s programme. The AATC will then screen all candidates by conducting psychometric and practical assessments. Only screened, capable apprentices will be provided to AA Quality Assured (AAQA) companies and other interested companies for employment. Within these companies, qualified tradesmen will act as a mentor for the apprentices, and ensure their growth over the three years of training.

Unemployment And Skills Shortages Tackled

Skills shortages in the wholesale and retail sector as well as unemployment amongst underprivileged youths are being addressed by Retail Relate and its partner stores.
Retail Relate is a South African institution that provides SETA-accredited training relevant to the retail sector. Essential Hardware, Pep, TFG, Midas among other retail groups have partnered with Retail Relate on two of its projects – last year’s Unemployed Youth Assistance Project and this year’s Rural Youth Project – providing internship opportunities for those undergoing training by Retail Relate.
The wholesale and retail sector currently employs almost 20 percent of South Africa’s workforce – almost three million people. Yet, imbalances in the demand and supply of labour, as well as serious skills shortages, paint a potentially bleak picture for the future of this sector.
“The retail sector needs an estimated 42 000 managers alone to meet growth demands. Our role is to devise strategies to turn this scenario around by providing relevant training to this sector,” Blochlinger said. A retail industry veteran of 38 years, Blochlinger brings valuable insights into what is needed resource wise to ensure sustainable growth of this sector.
A recent analysis by the Wholesale and Retail SETA found that less than six percent of those employed within this sector hold a tertiary qualification and even more worryingly, almost 53 percent do not even have a matric certificate. Furthermore, Further Education and Training Colleges feel that their offerings do not adequately address the skills shortages manifesting in the wholesale and retail industry. It was also found that there are very few programmes at other formal higher education institutions that are dedicated to preparing students for employment in the retail sector.
Although seriously affected by the economic downturn, recruitment in the wholesale and retail sector is showing signs of stabilisation. “The problem is that skills shortages are resulting in a limited supply of labour – very paradoxical when one looks at the country’s unemployment statistics,” said Blochlinger.
“What’s needed, for a start, is adequate training and education facilities and opportunities for would-be job candidates to gain experience. Beyond that, it has become vital for business owners to invest in strategic long-term planning, in order to combat a possible skills crisis and to ensure the ongoing profitability of their businesses.”
Last year, Retail Relate rolled out its Unemployed Youth Assistance Project. This 12-month programme provided training and practical experience for 214 interns from Gauteng.The learnership went extremely well with only a 10 percent drop off rate – 4 percent due to permanent employment. A graduation ceremony will be held on March 22 for those who successfully completed the course.
“We have now turned our attention to the young people living in the rural areas, where extreme poverty is stifling the great potential of these youngsters to make a good living for themselves and a meaningful contribution to the country’s economy,” said Leigh Blochlinger, who heads up Retail Relate.
The aim of the Rural Youth Project is to adequately equip its learners to be quality retail managers and store owners, through interactive theoretical training funded by the Wholesale and Retail SETA, and on the job training supplied by the managers of participating stores. This project not only empowers rural youth, but also addresses the specific skills shortages in the Wholesale and Retail sector.
The programme has just been rolled out in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the North West and the Northern Cape, where a total of 502 rural youth will receive training in 2012.
Once the 12-month programme has been successfully completed, the learner will qualify for an NQF 5 Management certificate and will have a full year’s working experience. “The programme could even facilitate entrepreneurial opportunities, as the training and experience will equip the learners to start their own business ventures,” Blochlinger said.
Funding from the Wholesale and Retail SETA, as well as partnerships with retailers, make it possible for those who cannot afford to pay for tertiary education to become valuable future employees.
Though the Rural Youth Programme has barely begun, the Retail Relate team is wasting no time in continuing to educate and empower more rural youth. Plans are in place to roll the project out in more provinces. “We also plan to boost participation in the current rural areas by offering an NQF 3 qualification and skills programmes for the informal retail sector,” Blochlinger said.

New Dealer Training College For GMSA

General Motors South Africa (GMSA) has launched a new dealer training programme for young sales executives at GM dealers in an effort to strengthen sales expertise and provide customers with top-quality service.
The GM College programme, which takes place over a six month period, incorporates four months’ training at GMSA’s Sales and Marketing office as well as a two month rotational in-dealer training regimen.
Focusing on university graduates, the first course is being embraced by 25 enthusiastic candidates, who started in February said Malcom Gauld, GMSA Vice President of Sales and Marketing. These students will become a feeder pool to the dealers.
“The sales staff at dealers plays a critical role in driving customers to buy our products and they are the first point of contact with customers. We believe that this programme will help new recruits gain the necessary sales skills and knowledge about our brands and products.”
A comprehensive curriculum has been strategically designed around the vehicle selling process, and modules include dealership dynamics, buyer profiles, basic vehicle technologies, communication skills, stress management, financial and consumer laws, product knowledge and various practical assignments, amongst others.
Dr Alf Bennett, Dealer Training and Manpower Development Manager at GMSA said, “The company is committed to develop professional and competent sales executives to ensure that our service levels to customers are of the highest levels. We have made tremendous progress over the last few years in the bi-annual Synovate Competitive Customer Enthusiasm surveys (CCE) where we have achieved leading positions in both sales and aftersales service, but we are determined to do even better in the future. The introduction of the GM College is a big step towards giving effect to a much more professional, career orientated individual who will be able to excel in the motor industry: initially as a sales executive, but later also as a sales manager and even dealer principal.”