- Job creation without the development of relevant skills is counter-productive
- MBSA involved in education at all levels of learning
- Models of best practice are expanded and replicated to maximize impact
Pretoria – June in South Africa is unofficially known as “Youth Month”, and Mercedes-Benz South Africa has re-affirmed its commitment to ensuring that this sector of the population are equipped to participate meaningfully in the country’s economy.
The technical skills programme, which Mercedes-Benz South Africa supports at the St Anthony’s Centre in Boksburg on the East Rand, provides young people with a variety of basic skills for the workplace and to start their own enterprises.
CEO and president of MBSA, Dr Martin Zimmermann, believes that South Africa needs to put the correct building blocks in place to capitalise on its large youth population. He says: “It is imperative that business co-operates with government departments and institutions of learning to ensure that learners exit the formal schooling system with the correct skills for the job market”.
This goes to the heart of the clarion call by government for job creation. “We cannot have a situation where jobs are being created, but we do not have suitably qualified and skilled individuals to fill the vacancies created,” Dr Zimmermann adds.
Currently 50% of the MBSA Corporate Social Investment (CSI) strategy focuses on education, and takes a long-term, sustainable approach, underpinned by the concept of creating a pipeline of learners at all levels that will one day graduate into well-rounded and relevantly skilled employees. Support for projects begins at early childhood development level, encompasses primary and high school education, and also focuses on technical skills development.
Projects are monitored closely so that the desired impacts are registered and best practice models are created. This has been the case at one of MBSA’s flagship projects – the School Transformation and Empowerment Programme (STEP).
A strategic partnership with the Eastern Cape Department of Education and the NGO, Funda Afrika, STEP has been running successfully in 15 schools in the Eastern Cape for three years. MBSA will be using the same project model to launch STEP II in Gauteng in 2012.
Education projects like STEP aims to implement exceptional educational standards at schools. The upliftment of the current intake of learners is balanced with the establishment of effectively managed schools and offset by educator development. In this way the focus is on skills development, and the project is able to build a lasting legacy at the schools it supports, a benefit for generations of learners to come.
“For us this is a good example of ensuring sustainability – an aspect of social development which underpins all the projects we commit to in our communities,” says Zimmermann.
MBSA also addresses technical skills development at projects such as the St Anthony’s Education Centre in Boksburg. Its support for the work of the Centre has grown to incorporate a learnership for motor mechanics. The theoretical part of the learnership is augmented with practical workplace experience at MBSA dealerships, further strengthening the ability of the youngsters on the programme to succeed real-world work environment.
In 2012 the motor manufacturer enhanced the service it provides to the industry to train technicians, when it extended its Technical Training Centre in East London to provide a Trade Test facility.
In all aspects of its CSI focus on education, the central tenet for MBSA is sustainable and meaningful impact.