Brian Joss –
The crucial need for a big increase in the number of people taking up apprentices in the retail motor industry formed the main focal point at the Retail Motor Industry organisation (RMI) conference, Rewards Just Ahead, at Automechanika Johannesburg recently.
The purpose of RMI and its industry partners’ presence at Automechanika Johannesburg was to provide career guidance in automotive careers and promote apprenticeships and vocational training. The event was attended by over three hundred learners from Gauteng based technical schools and Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and finished with the Rewards Just Ahead conference.
Dr. Paul Spear, the Return-on-Investment (ROI) Manager at the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) in the United Kingdom, gave a detailed rundown on the global requirement for more apprentices.
He then used a calculator he has developed to show the monetary value to an employer of taking on apprentices. The calculator shows the nett productivity from an apprentice and paints a very positive picture in terms of the hours and replacement parts sold. He said benefits started flowing through in the second year.
Dr. 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. He said the old stereotype of a mechanic in greasy overalls was far from the current situation.
He also gave examples of the practical and monetary benefits that came from sending employees on specialised training courses. This is particularly true in terms of those employees working in the body shop and parts stocking area.
It was encouraging to see that the conference on a Saturday morning was attended by a number of learners at 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 school pupils came from Dave Rowley, the Education Programme Director – South Africa for the Bloodhound supersonic land speed record bid. His topic was titled: “Why design a car to travel at 1 700km/h?” Rowley, who has a background in aeronautics and space technology, gave a host of staggering facts and figures flowing from this exciting programme which will involves high speed runs this year a record attempt next year at Haksteenpan in the Northern Cape.
Among these figures was the fact that people living in the Haksteenpan region have already removed 20 000 tons of rocks and stones from the surface of the section of the pan where the run will take place.
The interesting conference concluded with a panel discussion on the subject of encouraging apprenticeships. The panel, which was chaired by David Kramer, of Sci-Bono (Mathematics and Science) included the overseas guest speakers and local speakers Peter Nel, of Midas, Charles Robinson of PMI, David Kramer and Dr Florus Prinsloo, of the Department of Higher Education and Training.