Mercedes-Benz South Africa initiative prepares youth for automotive excellence
- Automotive Repair and Maintenance pilot graduates its first intake of learners, for NQF level 2 – toward becoming qualified automotive technicians in 2014.
Pretoria/ The Mercedes-Benz group of companies in South Africa (MBSA) bases its innovative Automotive Repair and Maintenance learnership concept on the belief that an increased pool of qualified automotive technicians, capacitated with the necessary knowledge and skills to competently and confidently fix customer vehicles will enhance the customer service experience.
In 2012, the company thus formed a powerful alliance with the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (MerSETA) and St Anthony’s Education Centre to provide NQF level three qualifications for young school leavers, stocking a pipeline of appropriately skilled technicians, with a service excellence mindset, for the automotive after-sales sector.
The twelve learners from Reiger Park township in Boksburg, who started the pilot programme in 2012, marked the first milestone on their road to success today, when they graduated from the first year of the qualification.
The programme kicked-off with theoretical and practical instruction at the St Anthony’s Education Centre. The students thereafter spent a month at the MBSA Head Office in Centurion for brand specific training and immersion into the company’s culture of service excellence, before they were 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 merSETA moderates the entire experience 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.”
Mercedes-Benz SA’s Dealer Training Academy Manager is elated that their unique design to the Learnership is one of the recipes that will ensure successful Learnership completion and eventual permanent employment, as these learners will be sought after.
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 success of this pilot phase will determine the future trajectory of the programme, but we are confident that we will make a positive contribution to the skills development arena.”
Photo caption: The pioneering group of students on the Mercedes-Benz South Africa Automotive Repair and Maintenance learnership programme received their NQF 2 certificates at a graduation event recently. Also in attendance was representatives from project partners Mercedes-Benz SA, MerSETA, and St Anthony’s Education Centre
About Mercedes-Benz South Africa
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the global company, Daimler AG. The company’s manufacturing plant is based in East London, a plant which has been building vehicles in South Africa since 1948.
Today MBSA manufactures Mercedes-Benz C-Class cars in right-hand drive for the local market and in left-hand drive execution for export to the United States of America. It also produces Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicles and buses, Mitsubishi FUSO trucks, as well as assembles Freightliner trucks, a leading American brand. The company also imports, distributes and markets other Mercedes-Benz passenger cars, trucks and vans, as well as smart cars.
The headquarters of MBSA are located in Zwartkop, Pretoria. The Mercedes-Benz East London plant, has been recognised over the past six years for its consistently high levels of quality manufacturing as evident from the various international J.D. Power and Associates awards internationally and the Synovate customer surveys locally. MBSA’s plant has excelled in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey conducted in the US for the past four consecutive years, achieving a platinum, two gold and one silver award.
In December 2010 parent company, Daimler AG, announced a further R2.5-billion investment in the South African operations, which will be one of four production sites for the next-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class.