The Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) Eastern Cape’s partnership with the South African government’s R9bn Jobs Fund will place 45 engineers into industry over the next 12 months.
Ensuring that the Eastern Cape’s manufacturing sector was a major beneficiary of the Jobs Fund, the AIDC Eastern Cape trained and placed 37 unemployed engineers into the region’s manufacturing sector last year. It aims to place into industry an additional 45 engineers, whom this week joined Phase 2 of the AIDC’s training programme.
A unique feature of the programme, which includes 12 months of theory and on-the-job training, is the placement of the engineers into Eastern Cape manufacturing plants for 12 months at no cost to host companies.
According to the AIDC Eastern Cape, engineers on the programme last year assisted their host companies make savings of R16m annually through specific projects to which they were assigned.
Trained in additional specialist skills including AutoCAD, PLC Programming, International Total Productive Maintenance, Lean Accounting, Project Management, Six Sigma, Energy Management and Statistical Process Control, 37 participants in Phase 1 were employed at manufacturers across the region, including Benteler South Africa, Johnsons Controls, Kansai Plascon Group and Mercedes Benz.
AIDC Eastern Cape MD Lance Schultz said the value of graduates to industry was significant.
“Their ability to make contributions is enabled by quality training and maturity levels. Our records show that more than 50% of the AIDC programme participants have 5 years experience or more,‘’ Schultz said.
“As a wholly owned subsidiary of the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) – an implementing arm of the Department of Economic Development Environmental Affairs and Tourism – the AIDC is focussed on both job creation and assisting the private manufacturing sector become sustainable and profitable, which is key to job retention and growth.”
“The Jobs Fund Programme run by the AIDC Eastern Cape is an ideal vehicle to achieve both of these objectives,” Schultz said.
As part of the AIDC Eastern Cape’s initial successful application, 135 engineers will be placed into automotive and affiliated sectors over a period of three years, providing scarce skills support to the region’s manufacturers.
Funded through the Development Bank of South Africa’s R 9b Jobs Fund, the engineers will seek to improve the local automotive economy towards excellence under the AIDC’s internationally endorsed programmes and projects. The engineers will be placed at host companies around the Eastern Cape.
Schultz said the programme had introduced advanced engineering capabilities to the region including simulation, design and statistical analysis for suppliers and manufacturing entities. In addition, the engineers will be developed in the leading performance improvement programmes including Six Sigma, Total
Productive Maintenance and traditional World Class Manufacturing systems.
The programme will also create an estimated 2000 jobs through the competitiveness improvements made and indirect jobs exceeding 5000. “An increase in competitiveness will lead to an increase in local content as suppliers seek to mitigate the rising cost of production,” said Acting Supplier Development Department Manager for at the AIDC, Zahier Ebrahim.
“In this context, the resource of an engineer placed at no fee into Eastern Cape automotive manufacturers, under the guidance of the AIDC, is a major gain to industry and the competitiveness of the automotive cluster in the Eastern Cape.”
In terms of the second successful application to the Jobs Fund made by the AIDC Eastern Cape, Schultz said an Incubator is under development in Buffalo City’s Mdantsane to train, equip and quality accredit commercial entrepreneurs in the informal automotive repair sector.
“The idea is to move suitable entrepreneurs from the informal economy into the mainstream, with the requisite skills and contacts to become job creating entities.”
The R9 billion Fund was announced by President Jacob Zuma in 2011 with the aim of finding innovative solutions to South Africa’s employment problem. It is projected that the 66 approved portfolio of projects will create 100,524 new permanent jobs in the economy. The fund is managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).