Train­ing a new gen­er­a­tion for the au­to­mo­tive world

IN­TER­VIEW/ The in­ter­na­tional In­sti­tute of the Mo­tor In­dus­try has part­nered with gov­ern­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor in SA, write Mark Smyth and Ler­ato Matebese

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

Ap­pren­tice­ships are mak­ing a big come­back, per­haps not in SA yet, but in many other coun­tries world­wide. It is es­pe­cially true in the mo­tor in­dus­try where th­ese on-the-job-train­ing routes are prov­ing to be a win-win op­tion for tech­ni­cians, work­shops and gov­ern­ments.

The In­sti­tute of the Mo­tor In­dus­try (IMI) is es­sen­tially the ar­biter of in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised mo­tor in­dus­try ap­pren­tice qual­i­fi­ca­tions in the world and it has now found its way to SA after be­ing sought out by Mer­seta and the Re­tail Mo­tor In­dus­try (RMI). Es­tab­lished in 1920, it was only in 1945 that the in­sti­tu­tion changed its name to the IMI and has re­mained this way to this day, aid­ing in­cu­ba­tion for world-renowned qual­i­fi­ca­tions within the au­to­mo­tive in­dus­try.

We spoke to Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI, while on a visit to SA re­cently. One of the main rea­sons for his visit was to en­gage with stake­hold­ers and open the first IMI-ac­cred­ited fa­cil­ity in part­ner­ship Im­pe­rial Mo­tus.

To give au­to­mo­tive ap­pren­tices the best the­o­ret­i­cal and prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ences, Im­pe­rial has made its Tech­ni­cal Train­ing Academy in Ger­mis­ton, Gaut­eng the base camp for all tu­ition phases, rang­ing from Level 1 to Level 5. The fa­cil­i­ties have a com­puter lab where the stu­dents can par­tic­i­pate in on­line mock ex­ams, be­fore sit­ting for their on­line-based proper ex­ams. There is also a welle­quipped work­shop where all sorts of ve­hi­cle com­po­nents, in­clud­ing petrol en­gines for both cars and bikes, can be stripped and re-as­sem­bled to man­u­fac­turer stan­dards.

In SA train­ing is nor­mally done un­der the ban­ner of each orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­turer (OEM), the car com­pany it­self. So a tech­ni­cian can have an ac­cred­i­ta­tion from Toy­ota or Audi, but if they move to BMW or Volk­swa­gen they have to do with the course again, even though there will be du­pli­ca­tion.

An IMI ac­cred­i­ta­tion is some­thing that can be car­ried from com­pany to com­pany and not just in SA. The IMI is present in more than 50 coun­tries mean­ing tech­ni­cians can be con­fi­dent their qual­i­fi­ca­tion will be ac­cepted around the world.

There is a suite of 25 pro­fes­sional ac­cred­i­ta­tions avail­able and the IMI, to­gether with its part­ners in SA, is also work­ing with QCTO (qual­ity coun­cil for trades and oc­cu­pa­tions) on fur­ther im­ple­men­ta­tion. QCTO has al­ready com­mit­ted to a pi­lot project which will prob­a­bly be to ac­credit tech­ni­cians to work on hy­brid and elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

The choice of al­ter­na­tive driv­e­train train­ing is in­ter­est­ing, but Nash says SA is no fur­ther be­hind than any­one else in this field. He says that tech­nol­ogy has lev­elled the play­ing field in this re­gard adding that there are def­i­nitely fur­ther op­por­tu­ni­ties like this for SA.

The ac­cred­i­ta­tion also helps to main­tain global stan­dards. Nash says that the qual­i­fi­ca­tion in SA has to be the same as else­where in the world, but points out that how you get there can be quite dif­fer­ent.

Much of that dif­fer­ence can be in the area of for­mal train­ing ver­sus ex­pe­ri­ence and it is here that the sub­ject of the in­for­mal sec­tor comes up. It is top­i­cal at the mo­ment with the Com­pe­ti­tion Com­mis­sion propos­ing the re­stric­tions im­posed by OEMs on where you can ser­vice or re­pair your car and what parts you can use be lifted. One aim is to al­low all work­shops to work on all ve­hi­cles, even new ones, although there are con­cerns that would need to be ad­dressed.

“I am not aware of any­where in the world where you have to use an OEM work­shop,” says Nash. It is “ridicu­lous SA has a skills short­age with such mas­sive un­em­ploy­ment”, adding “why not find a way of for­mal­is­ing the in­for­mal sec­tor?”

His ap­proach will be wel­comed by those seek­ing to en­hance their em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. With Nash claim­ing ap­pren­tice­ships can pro­vide up to a 300% re­turn on in­vest­ment, even dur­ing train­ing, it is an area that is sure to be mon­i­tored closely by in­di­vid­u­als, the pri­vate sec­tor and gov­ern­ment.

Ap­pren­tices at the Im­pe­rial Tech­ni­cal Train­ing Academy in Ger­mis­ton, Gaut­eng. Below: Michele Seroke, chief peo­ple of­fi­cer of Im­pe­rial Mo­tus, with Steve Nash, CEO of the IMI.

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