TRAINING DEVELOPMENTS AT A GLANCE IN SOUTH AFRICA
At times you wonder about the ‘bigger picture’ while slaving away at whatever you are called to do in the motor body industry. Let’s be honest, keeping the doors open and lights on (literally!) is enough just for the day, never mind being faced with ever dwindling skills in the workplace. Having a long-term outlook and plan is difficult at present, but still absolutely necessary.
Automotive Refinisher took time to interview three training facilities to see how 2023 has been for them, and what lies ahead for each in the year ahead. What a revelation to see that just within three passionate training houses, each is covering a different section of training with new- or tried-and-tested methods, and that in fact, skills development has an unbelievably positive impact now and for the future.
NF Apprentices assists body repair shops with administering apprenticeship programmes while meeting their skills and training objectives. They provide apprentices with hands on support through their monitoring and evaluation programmes at the various NF partner auto body repair shops, ensuring that apprentices successfully complete the MerSETA CBMT programme whilst assisting body repair shops build skilled employee capacity for their businesses.
“The year 2023 has been a challenging one for us,” said Michael Mogashoa, Programme Co-ordinator for NF Apprentices. “However, the issues we have experienced have seen good growth for our organisation. We have made new partners and signed on new apprentices, which is great for the industry. We now have 10 body shops participating in our programme, with 20 registered apprentices – eight panelbeating apprentices and 12 spray painters.”
Due to there being no local facility to qualify in Gauteng at present, their apprentices have been qualifying at C3 Academy in Bloemfontein, in the Free State this year. “It’s far for apprentices to travel, but we have had no choice but to ensure that apprentices progress, as this setback is through no fault of their own. There is a new trade test centre scheduled to open in Edenvale called Mbuthu. We are looking forward to this and believe this will be a win for the industry at large as well,” Mogashoa said.
NF Apprentices employ a rigorous recruitment process to identify the best candidates for the Competency Based Modular Training (CBMT) apprenticeship programme. They use a targeted approach, sourcing candidates from high schools in the same geographical areas as the partner body repair shops they will be placed in. Shortlisted candidates are assessed to ensure that they are the correct fit for the trade and to ascertain their leadership potential. They advertise on their social media platforms while taking walk-in applications from the public.
“We are in the process of concluding 12 placements for 2024 with a new partner of ours, in three provinces,” concluded Mogashoa.
Industry Training and Consulting (ITC)
The team at ITC have been hard at work with merSETA building a new project they call “Rural Action Plan” (RAP). “Oom Frik”, as Frik Botha is affectionately known in the industry, is a stalwart of education and has a passion for training second to none in the collision repair industry.
He says that we are in desperate need of mentors and artisans, as many have retired from the workplace. The shortage of artisans is proving a major shortfall right now.
“This is why we at ITC want to help qualify those who are already in the workplace, but who don’t have the recognised qualification. Many employees in the auto body industry have been doing a great job for years, but don’t have the recognised qualification. Many employees neither had the opportunity nor the understanding on how to get a qualification.
“This is where the Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) comes in. Through ARPL we are now able to turn work integrated learning and experience into a qualification. This will have an immediate effect on our industry which shows a lack of journeymen. In fact, we have many skilled employed individuals out there who are highly skilled but don’t have a certificate to say that.
The other way RAP will help is that as an apprentice you need 2-3 years before making a difference. The merSETA Discretionary Funding Model makes provision for ARPL and therefore would cost the company nothing. All that an individual has to do is to apply for the funding when the grant window opens.
“This industry now needs action plans and solutions. I am of the opinion time is running out! To get an experienced, skilled, dedicated employee qualified with the ARPL process cannot take longer than six months. This approach will help solve the lack of artisans as a quick solution,” said Frik.
The Rural Action Plan is concentrating on outlying areas to try and build up the skills force in these hard-to-reach areas where upliftment is the most needed. At present, they are reaching out in the wider areas of Brits, Rustenburg and Bela-Bela, but they have plans to run this project across South Africa in its remotest areas, with the aid of merSETA.
“With this outlook, we want to enable those already doing the work to be recognised, provide more mentors in the workplace within a short timeframe and build up the skills force in the collision repair industry as a whole.”
“Let’s take stock of what is before our eyes first and turn these skills to count in advancing individuals, and body shop business overall,” reiterated Frik.
C3 Auto Body Repair Academy is a merSETA accredited testing and training centre in Bloemfontein, Free State, committed to the development and advancement of exceptional repair industry related skills and qualifications.
The team at C3 Academy have had a non-stop year of piloting a new short-course concept. They are now full steam ahead with their first intake of 50 students. This is a joint project with C3 Academy, CRA and Hollard Insurance, a part project sponsor.
There will be 100 learners in total that will be qualified at the end of the process. Learners will be placed at CRA member shops for on-the-job experience to refine what they have understood after each set of unit standards which form part of the phase one, intensive, merSETA skills programme.
For the knowledge-based training aspect of the programme, learners across South Africa are accommodated in Bloemfontein, thereafter they will be placed in partner motor body repairers in their hometowns for on-the-job training. Candidates will continue to alternate between training in Bloemfontein and the workplace for the six months training duration.
Candidates are from Gauteng, Limpopo, KZN, Mpumalanga and the greater Free State areas. They have been split into two categories – spray painting and auto body repairs. For this first phase of training, the Spray Painters are currently busy with surface preparation and the Auto Body Repairers busy learning to use and understand their tools and getting to grips with stripping and assembling.
“The key is to start right from the beginning and as such are learning smaller steps to get it right the first time. This means that they add immediate value in a repair shop from the minute they get to their placement,” said Busi Maile, Managing Director of C3 Academy. “This is essential to keep the workplace as friction-free as possible and for us to add as much value each time a student is placed. We believe this is a really good way to introduce learners to possible full-time employment as well as add to the depleted numbers of artisans in the collision repair industry with quality journeymen.”
Skills such as understanding your work environment, health and safety, plus what to expect in the workplace, are also being covered.
Each course completed is linked to an NQF qualification and the programme is structured so that eventually the learners will get their qualifications under the Artisans Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) for technicians with experience and full-time employment.
Every one of the students have been placed for their first section of work experience and the programme is going better than imagined. The next 50 learners will begin with their skills programme in April next year.
Story by: Claire Macfie