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Appies: Crucial need still for auto trade

2015-05-20 10:03

FRESH FROM COLLEGE: John Orr Technical High School students received certificates from Jakkie Olivier (second left, RMI), and Carmen Adams-Hoffman (second right) of BHP Billiton Career Centre, to fast-track into the industry. Image: Quickpic

JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng - The crucial need for a big increase in the number of apprentices in the retail motor industry was the focus of a Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) conference, Rewards Just Ahead, at Automechanika.

The purpose of RMI and its industry partners' presence at Automechanika Johannesburg was to provide career guidance in automotive careers and to promote apprenticeships and vocational training.

The event was attended by more than 300 students from Gauteng-based technical schools and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and finished with the Rewards Just Ahead conference.


Paul Spear, the return-on-investment manager at the UK's Institute of the Motor Industry gave a detailed run-down on the global need for apprentices then used a calculator he has developed to show the monetary value to an employer of taking on apprentices.

The calculator shows the net productivity from an apprentice and paints a very positive picture in terms of the hours and replacement parts sold. Benefits, he said, started flowing through in the second year.

Spear also stressed the importance of attracting talented and well-qualified people into apprenticeships in the retail motor trade due to the huge leaps in automotive technology and the growing complexity of motor vehicles. The old stereotype of a mechanic in greasy overalls was far from current reality

He also gave examples of the practical and monetary benefits of sending employees on specialised training courses - particularly those working in the body shops and parts stores.


It was encouraging to see the conference, on a Saturday morning, attended by a number of students from the John Orr Technical High School who excelled in mechanical technology, science and mathematics.

A fresh and invigorating way to promote maths and science among schoolgoers came from Dave Rowley, the education programme director for the Bloodhound supersonic land speed record bid.

His topic was titled: "Why design a car to travel at 1700km/h?" Rowley, who has a background in  aeronautics and space technology, gave a number of staggering facts and figures flowing from this exciting programme which will involves high-speed runs later in 2015 and a record attempt in 2016 at Haksteenpan in the Northern Cape.

The conference concluded with a panel discussion on encouraging apprentices. The panel, chaired by David Kramer, of Sci-Bono (Mathematics and Science), included overseas guest speakers and local speakers Peter Nel of Midas, Charles Robinson of PMI, David Kramer and Florus Prinsloo, of the Department of Higher Education and Training.


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