This month marked a milestone in the relationship between RMI and the German Chamber of Crafts Erfurt, also known as Handwerkskammer Erfurt (HWK), as industry stakeholders – including a representative from the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Service SETA (MerSETA) – flocked to Iqhayiya Campus at Port Elizabeth College to discuss the progress of the partnership.
The two organisations joined forces last year in an attempt to boost skills training in the Eastern Cape, by driving vocational training in the automotive aftermarket. This is especially important, given the speed with which modern vehicles evolve.
According to Erwin Stroebel, Regional Manager in the Eastern Cape for RMI, the partnership has made a significant impact: to date, 18 TVET lecturers and teachers from nine institutions have received training through the initiative. These trainers have attended several courses with a practical orientation, specifically designed to address the skills gaps that had been identified. Several of these courses have been hosted in Germany and attended online, while practical training takes place at an accredited training centre.
The exposure to international trends made possible through the German Craft Chamber is particularly valuable, as technological advances in the automotive aftermarket sales, repair and maintenance sectors continue to be challenging and many companies are struggling to find staff members equipped with relevant skills.
Louis van Huyssteen, Training Director at RMI, says that upskilling apprentice facilitators and lecturers is a central step in lecturer development and crucial if South Africa is to offer quality training.
Beneficiaries of the programme have also provided positive feedback. Bridget Finn of Finn Auto Repairs and Diagnostics in PE has employed two artisans and said that she would encourage other companies to take advantage of the training opportunity. As an added plus, MerSETA has indicated that member organisations will receive support through training funding.
HWK’s Birgit Mac Mahon has said that the progress of the campaign is highly encouraging, and points to the possibility of extending the initiative to other provinces.