Mercedes-Benz South Africa After-Sales initiative prepares youth for automotive excellence
- MBSA Automotive Repair and Maintenance learnership pilot proceeding on schedule
Pretoria/ The Mercedes-Benz group of companies in South Africa (MBSA) bases its innovative Automotive Repair and Maintenance learnership concept on the belief that the customer service experience can only be as good as the dedication and expertise of its staff members.
Twelve young learners from the Boksburg township, Reiger Park, were identified to participate in the learnership pilot earlier this year, and immersed in the MBSA culture of service excellence. After 6 months, they have completed the first phase which comprised theoretical and practical instruction at the St Anthony’s Education Centre. The students spent sometime at the MBSA Head Office in Centurion for brand specific training, and are currently involved in on-the-job training at various company dealerships.
Successful completion of the three-year programme will equip learners with a Certificate in Automotive Repair and Maintenance, while the workplace exposure and mentorship by the dealers will give them an invaluable head start in their future careers.
The MBSA leanership is run in co-operation with the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (MerSETA), with competency assessments being completed by the MerSETA at the end of each milestone.
Vice President for After-Sales at MBSA, Naeem Hassim, explains that the company shares the concern and commitment of government to educate and upskill the youth. “We want to create a sound skills base and a pipeline of technically-skilled individuals with a specific emphasis on customer relations and enhancing the customer experience,” he adds. “The automotive industry is strongly driven by technological advancement, and we have a severe shortage of technical skills. This learnership will potentially benefit both the company and the sector.”
Centre director, Vanessa Pillay, is satisfied with the progress made by the students. “The learners have a long journey ahead of them, starting with NQF Level 2 this year and culminating in 2014 with an NQF Level 4. Our emphasis is on equipping them for the journey with a combination of technical, job and life skills that will serve them not only in their training but also in their future careers.”
Leaner, Innocent Nkosi, expressed his delight with the outcomes of the programme thus far, and while he admits some apprehension about the challenges he will face in the second half of the year, he is also very excited: “I am grateful for the opportunity to kick-start a career in the motor industry, and have already learned more than I expected,” he says.
“We watch the progress of our learners with keen interest”, Hassim says. “The second intake of 12 learners has just taken place, and the success of the pilot project at the end of the year will determine the future trajectory of the programme, but we are confident that we will make a positive contribution to the skills development arena.”