A new academy aimed at tackling the skills shortage in the automotive industry is currently under construction.
The Gauteng Provincial Government has partnered with Nissan South Africa to build the Gauteng Automotive Training Academy in Rosslyn, Pretoria where people will be trained in areas related to vehicle assembly and repairs. The academy is expected to train about 1 000 students a year and will offer programmes such as welding, spray painting, vehicle assembly and service maintenance.
According to Gauteng’s MEC for Economic Development Nkosiphendule Kolisile, the project is an indication of the provincial government’s commitment to growing the automotive industry.
“The academy is part of the collaborative efforts by government and the automotive industry to overcome skills shortage for vehicle assemblers, automotive component manufacturers, dealer and after-sales support network, as well as informal and mechanical repairers. The academy will offer both theory and practical training for students,” MEC Kolisile explained.
The collaboration with Nissan highlighted the confidence the company had in the province, he added.
“The institution will also house a world-class automotive manufacturing training simulator to raise the assembly process capabilities of Nissan South Africa employees in preparation for the production of a new pickup truck due for launch in mid-2014.”
The production of the new pick up truck will see Nissan investing R1 billion and creating 800 direct jobs in South Africa.
The partnership also had the potential to stimulate young people’s interest in the industry and expand opportunities in the sector, MEC Kolisile added.
Nissan managing director Mike Whitfield stressed the importance of skills development in the industry.
“Skills development is vital to the sustainability of the South African auto industry and our involvement in the Automotive Training Academy demonstrates our commitment to the industry’s long-term survival,” he said.
According to the Automotive Industry Export Council, in 2010 more than 28 000 people were directly employed in the automotive manufacturing industry. About 200 000 were employed in retail and aftermarket activities while about 6 600 employed in the tyre manufacturing industry.
Nissan has donated land and two buildings to the training academy, while the Gauteng Department of Economic Development will focus on refurbishing the buildings. For now, the site is dominated by dust, rubble and noise as workmen toil furiously to meet the deadline. Inside, workers drill and hammer ceilings into place while outside earth moving machines create their own roar as they dig holes and remove rubble. Construction at the site is expected to be complete by May 2013. John Nyalunga, one of the construction managers, expects the completed academy be an impressive structure.
“There will be three buildings once the academy is completed. Currently we are refurbishing two buildings. The first block, where the offices and classroom will be situated, is almost complete. The second building, which will be the workshop, still has to be extended by 12 metres, while the third building that will be built will be the paint shop,” said Nyalunga.
The Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC), an agency that falls under the Gauteng Department of Economic Development, will run the academy. Its mandate is to partner with the automotive industry to become globally competitive.