The automotive component manufacturing industry now drives its skills pool

A collaborative public-private partnership called High Gear positions South Africa’s automotive component manufacturing industry as a leader in strengthening the country’s technical skills development ecosystem. Operated by the IYF and bringing together the National Association of Automotive and Related Component Manufacturers (NAACAM), the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), and international funders, High Gear channels the needs of manufacturers automotive components to improved training in public TVET colleges. .

The mandate of TVET colleges is to develop the country’s modern productive economy and create sustainable jobs for young South Africans while driving the transformation agenda. Developing and maintaining strong partnerships with industry and TVET colleges is key to ensuring that technical courses remain aligned with the ever-changing manufacturing sector. This kind of close alignment also helps position TVET college graduates as the first choice among employers, while providing industry with the skills it needs to grow.

High Gear is designed to enable this more industry-aligned skills development system by changing the way a vital economic sector collaborates with public TVET colleges. With NAACAM as its lead partner, High Gear leverages the knowledge, expertise and demand of association members – over 130 automotive component manufacturers – and translates them into concrete partnerships with the TVET system.

High Gear is also positioned to support DHET’s skills strategy interventions that underpin the economic recovery and reconstruction plan. The ERRP was created to maximize opportunities for new entrants to access and succeed in the labor market, while preserving existing jobs and creating new ones.

High Gear’s role within the ERRP is to ensure that skills are not a barrier to economic recovery, reconstruction and transformation by demonstrating a partnership model that will regularly align TVET courses on current and emerging industry demands. Continuous curriculum alignment and upskilling through work exposure, both embedded in the High Gear model, position TVET qualifications as flexible frameworks for regular and dynamic updates as as the needs of the industry evolve.

High Gear is supported by catalytic funding from the UK government’s Skills for Prosperity programme, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. To sustain and grow High Gear, NAACAM is working to secure national funding that will ensure this remains a long-term initiative and core service offering of the association.

When designing High Gear, the IYF’s first port of call was to work with NAACAM – the association that serves as the voice of automotive component manufacturers – to define the industry’s skills development priorities. The guiding framework for this analysis was the South African Automotive Master Plan 2035, which aims to double employment in the country’s automotive manufacturing sector and ensure the local workforce is representative of demographics. from the country.

NAACAM’s member companies, which number more than 150 in total, regularly participate in High Gear’s quarterly labor market surveys to help project partners understand the nature of existing labor market gaps. skills and the range of future skills required by the sector. The surveys also seek to identify regional and subsector-specific nuances in the skills environment. This information is then used to design interventions that guide TVET college partnerships and course improvements.

Industry supports the program through work-integrated learning opportunities for TVET faculty and students, enabling educators and learners to gain necessary “real life” exposure that will enhance their technical knowledge, especially when technologies are implemented and evolve at a rapid pace. Technical experts from the component industry also volunteer their time as guest speakers from industry to share their expertise. NAACAM runs this component in KwaZulu-Natal, while Automotive Industry Development Centre: Eastern Cape is taking the lead in implementing High Gear’s work-integrated learning component.

Robotics and other Industry 4.0 methodologies and production tools have been used in the domestic automotive sector since the early 1990s, and South African suppliers were early adopters, especially as the Most Tier 1 suppliers are divisions of multinational corporations and have adopted technologies and production systems from their home countries.

Prior to High Gear, the automotive component industry’s skills development ecosystem was relatively uncoordinated due to differing requirements across automotive assembler production lines, differing technologies and staggered production lead times that impact individual suppliers’ approach to skills development. Through the convening power of NAACAM, High Gear has created a more consolidated industrial skills strategy that is poised to support South Africa’s development of a pipeline of capable, industry-relevant young talent.

NAACAM believes that High Gear represents a tangible opportunity for component suppliers to meaningfully collaborate across the industry and with TVET colleges in their geographic area. Industry players can now play a leading role in developing and implementing a skills roadmap for the sector and ensuring that TVET teachers and students have the opportunity to participate in the upgrading and redefining of curricula, which will ensure their future participation in the automotive sector.

As a vital part of High Gear’s development of sustainable employment opportunities, NAACAM and IYF have launched a digital career experience platform ( that offer TVET students and other young people the opportunity to explore career paths in automotive component manufacturing, develop industry-relevant skills through interactive mini-games and aids to study engineering online, and to search for entry-level jobs through links with the Office of the President platform.

By Shivani Singh, Business Manager, NAACAM, and Colin Hagans, High Gear Program Director at IYF

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