Eastern Cape Engineering Students Move Into High Gear

CAPTION:  At the sign-off of a project to integrate TVET learners and curricula into industry were, from the left:  IYF  Programme Manager,  Masakhane Mlamla, AIDC Eastern Cape Project Co-ordinator, Priscilla Fry and AIDC Eastern Cape CEO, Thabo Shenxane.

An innovative intervention launched with public TVET colleges in the Eastern Cape is expected to revolutionise the output of engineering training and boost the pipeline of skills required by South Africa’s globally competitive automotive industry.

The intervention will place mechanical and electrical engineering TVET students at host companies for work integrated learning during their studies and have industry experts provide guest lectures to TVET students, ultimately equipping graduates with the experience that is likely to boost their employment prospects and value-add to businesses in the province.

The initiative will be implemented by the AIDC Eastern Cape as part of High Gear, an initiative managed by IYF in partnership of the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM) and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET).

According to Shivani Singh, Commercial Director at NAACAM, “High Gear is an initiative to create a skills development ecosystem that is coordinated, dynamic and responsive to young people’s and employer’s needs in automotive component manufacturing sector. The successful development of these skills is critical to achieving the South African Automotive Masterplan 2035 objective of doubling of employment in the value chain.”

High Gear’s work in Eastern Cape, which will also expose lecturers to the automotive components manufacturing work environment, is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The UK Government’s Skills for Prosperity Programme is funding High Gear implementation in KwaZulu-Natal Province.

Speaking at its launch, AIDC CEO Thabo Shenxane said that High Gear’s TVET workplace exposure component will be piloted with NATED Level 4-6 and NCV Level 2-4 engineering lecturers and students at three Eastcape Midlands College campuses, beginning with immediate effect.

“The first phase of the project involves acquiring host companies, but we expect that before the 4th quarter of the year, more than 100 learners and 15 lecturers and will be interacting in a structured way with industry.’’

“The optimisation of TVET education that links learners with employers, provides industry with a direct opportunity to shape and develop the technical and soft skills they need. It also provides industry participants with a personal, first-hand view of potential employees.’’

High Gear’s Programme Director, Colin Hagans said TVET staff and students would receive workplace exposure, involving short visits and periods of observation at manufacturing companies in addition to workplace-based experience, typically 5-15 days in a real-world workplace, as part of their programme of study.

Once identified and secured, guest lecturers will be briefed and prepared by High Gear-contracted consultants prior to entering TVET college classrooms.

Beginning in January 2022 (the next academic year), AIDC-EC will transition to serving as the lead management intermediary for High Gear work-integrated learning (WIL) implementation in Eastern Cape, with continued technical support from High Gear. As part of this transition, AIDC-EC will also lead the expansion of the High Gear WIL component to TVET students from other High Gear partner TVET colleges in the province.

“The project marks a significant turning point in the value of TVET engineering courses in the region.  The effects created by the integration of future graduates and employers, will make a significant contribution both to the quality of output and to our socio-economic development,” Shenxane said.

CONTACT

Initiative: HIGH GEAR

Contact: Masakhane Mlamla – Programme Manager (Eastern Cape)

Email: [email protected]

Website: https://highgear.naacam.org.za/

Contact: Priscilla Fry – AIDC EC Project Co-ordinator

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 041 3932100