Brian Joss – BestDrive may be better known as Continental’s franchise retail chain, but it is now also a place of hope and opportunity for four young men from Port Elizabeth.
After visiting the SOS Children’s Village in 2017, Continental Tyre SA MD Shaun Uys was moved by the experience, yet he was equally concerned about the future for these youngsters: “I questioned what happened to the children after leaving the system, what became of their education, and the impact on the siblings and family members that many of them will need to support.
“More importantly, I asked what we at Continental can do to help, and I challenged our Training Committee to investigate ways in which we could answer these questions,” Uys explains.
The committee contacted merSETA, the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Authority, for guidance and it was agreed that a learnership programme, centered on the National Certificate, Automotive Repair and Maintenance with a focus on Tyre Fitment was the answer.
The team applied for funding in April 2018, which was approved in February 2019 and led to the official establishment of the Continental Tyre SA/BestDrive Learnership Programme. Four young men from the SOS Children’s Village House of Youth in Cotswold, Port Elizabeth, were selected for the inaugural intake, comprising Sipho Xhego, Sibusiso Sokutu, Wayne Nel and Ndimphiwe Manaka.
Their journey with Continental Tyre SA and BestDrive commenced on July 8 this year with the company induction process and a tour of the Port Elizabeth tyre plant giving them in-depth insight into the tyre manufacturing process. Thereafter they commenced with classroom and practical training at the company-owned BestDrive William Moffett store.
The external moderation for the Learnership took place on 20 November. The learners passed the assessments and their certificates of competence were subsequently issued by merSETA. They will continue with practical training until the end of January 2020.
“As part of the Learnership Programme, these young men are given extensive training and a set of skills that we hope and trust will empower them to create a brighter future, whether they remain in the tyre industry, or move on to other opportunities that they previously may not have had,” Uys says. “This is an important step in assisting them to become economically active members of society where they can determine their own success.”
An integral part of the Learnership Programme is teaching these youngsters essential life skills, and they share the House of Youth with a mentor, where they pay rent and utilities, contribute to the weekly food budget and schedule cooking amongst themselves. Weekly saving is encouraged, preparing them for the future and enabling them to form these crucial habits early in life.
As one of the learners, Sibuseso Sokutu says: “I wasn’t used to working with my hands, but during this Learnership Programme I found myself enjoying the work. I look forward to learning more about the tyre industry in the future.”
Ndimphiwe Manaka reflects on what he has learnt from the programme: “Before joining the Learnership Programme I was doing nothing, so I was excited to work instead of sitting at home.
Working with different people has helped challenge me to learn something new every day. I’m interested in learning more about tyres, and cars as well.”
CAPTION: Brighter future: Sibusiso Sokutu and Sipho Xhego, learning skills. Picture: Quickpic