RMI concerned about transition for apprentice training

The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) has expressed concern about the transition to occupational qualifications for apprentice training in the retail motor industry sector in South Africa.

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The organisation represents more than 8 500 employer businesses in the retail automotive aftermarket sector in the country.

“The transition in training dispensation in SA, from the legacy to occupational qualifications, will not be without its challenges,” says Louis van Huyssteen, RMI National Training Director.

Employers, specifically in the repair and maintenance sector of the retail motor industry and more so those in rural areas of the country with no access to training providers, have in the past benefited from the merSETA competency-based modular training (CBMT) delivery method, which is largely done in the workplace. Louis says a number of employers, particularly in these outlying areas, are therefore questioning the need to change something that has worked so well.

Louis van Huyssteen.

A lack of understanding among some employers and training providers of the new occupational qualifications and how they work has indeed led to confusion and resistance to change making it difficult for DHET to implement the occupational qualification system.

The rotation of apprentices in the occupational qualification delivery method between the training centre and the employer’s workplace, is however an important consideration for employers. “Significantly, the new occupational curriculum is based on one third of the time at the training provider over the 3 years for the training of a motor mechanic apprentice,” he says.

Many training providers themselves have also not had the opportunity to experience the developed National Occupational Curriculum Content (NOCC). Only those select 19 TVET colleges, of a total of 50, who formed part of the DHET Centres of Specialisation project from 2017, have done so.

The RMI has been involved in the Department's Centres of Specialisation (CoS) project since 2017 and has played an integral role in successfully implementing occupational qualifications for the automotive motor and diesel mechanic, part of the 13 priority trades.

But while the RMI believes that occupational qualifications can contribute to skills development in the motor industry, it is concerned about the potential negative impact on the country's national artisan development target of 30 000 artisans a year.

Louis says RMI is equally concerned about the level of support for employers who have apprentices enrolled across the 13 trades. He says that while a smooth transition to occupational qualifications on 1 July 2023 is the ideal scenario, the RMI suggests that the current time-based learnerships and competency-based delivery methods should remain in place during the phased implementation of the occupational qualifications over a period of at least 36 months.

The requirements for the new occupational qualifications incorporate 3 components, namely knowledge, simulated practical and workplace experience.

The main differences between the three delivery methods for training a motor mechanic in South Africa are as follows:

Competency-based modular training (CBMT):

  • What is it: CBMT is a four-year delivery method where training is done in modules, and each module must be completed before moving to the next. It is mostly conducted through workplace-based learning, with the apprentices spending most of their time at the workplace.
  • Is grant funding available? Yes, grant funding is available for qualifying employers but only for the current funding window, which is open until 31 May 2023. From 1 July 2023, the transition in the training dispensation in SA only promotes and funds occupational qualifications.
  • What will happen after 1 July if I already have an artisan enrolled? A teach-out period will allow for apprentices to complete their training to become artisans.

Learnership:

  • A learnership is a three-year work-based learning programme that leads to an NQF-registered qualification. It is aimed at providing both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in a specific field. The apprentice is required to spend a certain amount of time both in the classroom and in the workplace.
  • Type of training: There is a need for apprentices to spend time away from their workplaces as the training provider or skills development provider, regardless, if public or private, has an obligation to meet the curriculum requirements.
  • What will happen after 1 July if I already have an artisan enrolled on a learnership? A teach-out period will allow for apprentices to complete their training to become artisans.
  • Benefit to employer: Benefits from a productive apprentice over the duration of the learnership.

Occupational Qualification:

  • An occupational qualification is a qualification based on the skills, knowledge and values required for a specific occupation. It is a combination of theoretical knowledge and practical skills, and the apprentice is required to complete a workplace component, a simulated practical component and a knowledge component. .
  • Is grant funding available? Yes, grant funding is available for qualifying employers. From 1 July 2023, the transition in the training dispensation in SA only promotes and funds occupational qualifications.
  • Type of Training: The apprentice is required to spend a certain amount of time, both in the classroom and in the workplace. The training provider has an obligation to meet the curriculum requirements.
  • Benefit to employer: The employer benefits from a productive apprentice over the duration of the occupational qualification.

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