The scarcity of appropriately skilled technicians in the automotive sector has spurred Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) to extend its involvement in the training of technicians by initiating a technical learnership at the St Anthony’s Education Centre in Boksburg.
The three-year pilot programme sees the motor manufacturer collaborating with the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (MerSETA) and St Anthony’s to provide NQF level three qualifications for an initial intake of 24 learners. Funding of R1.4 million per year will be made available by MBSA and MerSETA, with St Anthony’s staff providing the training competence for the theoretical part of the programme.
MBSA have enlisted the assistance of their Dealer Network, which comprises 87 dealerships across the country, to expose the learners to the workplace, and provide on-the-job training. Each learner will have the opportunity to be mentored by a dealership for four months. During this time they will complete their portfolio of evidence for their final assessments, putting theoretical studies into practice. The learners receive a stipend during this practical training phase, which also includes a month’s exposure to MBSA’s specialised, product-specific maintenance training.
Successful completion of the programme will equip learners with a Certificate in Automotive Repair and Maintenance, but the workplace exposure will give them a head start in their future careers.
MBSA Divisional Manager for Group Corporate Affairs, Nobuzwe Mangcu, said at the launch of the learnership that the company shares the concern and commitment of the government to educate and upskill the youth. “We want to focus on a sound skills base and a pipeline of technically-skilled individuals,” she says. “The automotive industry is strongly driven by technological advancement, and we have a severe shortage of technical skills.”
“This is an example of the private sector partnering with government towards meeting and addressing key challenges for South Africa. It also contributes to job creation, the enhancement of skills, socio-economic development and enterprise development,” said MerSETA CEO, Dr Raymond Patel.
Some of the topics covered in the learnership include:
• Fundamentals of numeracy and literacy in a motor industry context
• Diagnosing and repairing motor vehicle systems
• Tools management
• Stripping and assembling engines
• Removing and replacing brakes and clutches
• Servicing and repairing conventional automobile ignition systems
• Repairing suspension systems
• Removing and installing fuel injection components
• Servicing and repairing electronic automobile ignition systems
MBSA is not a newcomer to the area of leanerships, following the phenomenal success of a three-year professional commercial vehicle driver programme in 2009, with the first group of graduates receiving a 53 per cent pass rate.
The company’s co-operation and partnership with St Anthony’s started in 2010 , with support for the ABET programme; the Matric Re-write programme and Skills Training.