With sustained growth, however, comes the skills squeeze. Local automotive seating, overhead system, floor console, door and instrument panel manufacturer Johnson Controls has embarked on empowering young professionals through a graduate development program.
“The sector is growing so fast that there are skills shortages at all levels,” says Erna Scheepers, regional HR development manager of Johnson Controls. A global leader in automotive seating, overhead systems, floor consoles, door panels and instrument panels, the company is celebrating 20 years of success in democratic South Africa. During these two decades, it has addressed training and upskilling with a resulting impressive staff loyalty.
“In addition to a can-do attitude and ability in manufacturing, we need to develop leadership at management level,” Scheepers adds.”Graduate recruitment is one way for us to bring on board talented, qualified people who are committed to what we do and have the potential to become the next generation senior leaders of our organization. In addition, this boosts the company in meeting its diversity targets.”
Over the last 12 months, the company attracted 20 graduates, the majority female, who were employed at its three operations, Trim and Just-In-Time (JIT) in Uitenhage and Pretoria and Interiors in East London. They were employed on a 12 month contract and assigned a senior employee as mentor to share knowledge, experience and understanding of the business. Currently working in the organization are graduates in logistics; engineering; continuous improvement; commerce; finance; purchasing; health, safety, security and environment and HR. They will emerge more employable and poised for positions within the company or elsewhere in the industry. Five graduates have found permanent positions already.
“Vehicles manufacturers invested R4.3 billion in 2012 and R4.4 billion in South Africa in 2013 as the industry targets 1.2 million vehicles per annum by 2020. While this will provide the necessary economies of scale to remain globally competitive, it demands the availability of capable management with industry know-how,” concludes Scheepers. “This is where our program is making a contribution.”
|Garren Williams – Logistics: “This opportunity has given me great exposure which I may not have gained otherwise. At Johnson Controls I have also grown as a person and in terms of knowledge and understanding the industry. As a result of the successful execution of a project, the Supply Chain Director requested me to replicate it at other Johnson Controls plants throughout South Africa.”|
|Noluvuyo Mnyimba – Finance: “I regard this opportunity at Johnson Controls as a valuable stepping stone for my future career as it is my first job after university. This is an opportunity to apply the theory in practice. It has laid the foundation for my career path.”|
|Luvolwethu Qabo – HSSE (Health, Safety, Security, Environment): “In South Africa it is very difficult to get a job without experience. Graduate programs such as this at Johnson Controls are invaluable. This is an excellent opportunity to get involved in the workplace, to gain exposure and experience – to apply my theoretical knowledge in practice. Having a mentor is an added advantage. I learn from this person with such vast experience – from doing the job to interacting with people on different levels – from senior management to shop floor level.”|
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