Broadening horizons

Broadening horizons

The Imperial Technical Training Academy (ITTA) recently took learners from John Orr Technical High School in Johannesburg on an automotive industry tour – and Charmont Media, publisher of FOCUS, was one of the stops!

The automotive industry is one of the most hard-hit by the current skills shortage, and the solution lies in the youth of today. The higher the standard of education they receive, the further we can progress as a nation. Imperial realised this, and initiated a pilot programme with John Orr to give the school’s top nine Grade 10 mechanical technology learners the chance to discover some of the opportunities available to them once they leave school.

“Learners with mechanical technology qualifications typically follow the pipeline for occupations in the automotive industry,” says Marwaan Davids, national technical training manager at Imperial Automotive Retail Division, of which the ITTA is a subsidiary. “The pilot programme sets out to give these learners a better idea of the career prospects offered by the automotive industry.”

Broadening horizonsThe Academy manages the school development initiative as a subject-matter expert in mechanical technology. Phase 1 focuses on creating awareness of opportunities with the aim of sparking the interest of learners and hopefully increasing their levels of success in matric. Phase 2 continues in Grade 11, with learners assessed to determine their career ambitions and suitability, before going on a job shadowing excursion that matches their career preferences.

There are no excursions in the Grade 12 year because the focus is on preparing learners for their national matric examinations – but this is where Imperial and its partners open their doors and give learners insight into a variety of sectors in the automotive industry.

The learners spent a week in July visiting 10 companies, with Charmont Media selected as the automotive media representative on the tour. Since we were the last stop in the tour, we invited the learners to co-write this article and tell us about the experience in their own words. (Unfortunately, we’ve had to cut down responses to fit – Ed.)


Thamsanqa Mbele (18) – aspires to be a mechanic or car salesman

“Hyundai taught us about the different sectors in the dealership. One of my best parts was how quickly car parts are found in the storeroom and on the parts rack. From what we have learnt in class to seeing it in real life, I would love to be a well-known mechanic.”

Broadening horizonsMicro Engineering

Sihle Gwala (15) – aspires to be a sales manager

“Micro Engineering fixes broken engines. The first part of the process is to strip the engines and wash them at over 40ºC. Then it goes to inspection and after that a person checks the cracks in the shafts of the engines before they go to the assembling section. They told us about how much the engines and the parts of an engine cost – and that an engine has 2 500 parts!”

Imperial Toyota, Kempton Park

“Robin Madi (16) – aspires to be a forensic investigator, presenter or sales executive

Imperial Toyota was one of the most educational places. We were taught about servicing and repairing cars, as well as one of the most important branches in a car dealership: sales. We learnt the basics of the business and that the most important way to act when a customer arrives is to put a smile on your face no matter how you feel at the time.”


Kamohelo Hato (17) – aspires to be an industrial engineer

“Europcar did a short presentation for the tour, and the best part was when we went to the workshop and saw the whole process of how damaged cars are repaired. The painting is amazing and after that there was another presentation about them and what they really do.”

National Airways

Phathu Mudau (16) – aspires to be a mechanical engineer/technician

Broadening horizons“National Airways Corporation (NAC) made us understand the field of engineering. It made my engineering dream come true; I wish to finish and get a job at NAC. It was the best place I saw during the tour; they explained everything about aircraft engines. I’m planning my next visit alone and maybe get a part-time job to get some job experience in my summer holidays.”


Neo Mthethwa (16) – aspires to be a mechanical engineer

“The Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector (merSETA)
is working to close the skills gap
or shortage of skills in SA. It was one of the most interesting places we visited because we got to learn a lot about manufacturing, engineering and related services. If it wasn’t for merSETA,
we wouldn’t have gained knowledge about learnerships, apprenticeships and bursaries.”


Obakeng Moemi (17) – aspires to be an assembler

Broadening horizons“I experienced and learnt a lot about Nissan. I never knew that Nissan had such an interesting history. I really liked the tour around the workshop – it got my attention. I never knew that when you assemble a car you don’t really use your hands, because there are a lot of machines helping you.”

Pert Industries

Mpumeleto Madi (15) – aspires to be a motor mechanic or driver

“At Pert Industries they do electronics, which I’m not into, but working with something different is always a good experience. They showed us we are special so that was nice.”

Charmont Media

Siphelele Nxumalo (16) – aspires to be an engineer/technician

“Charmont Media welcomed us and told us about their jobs and how they travel around the country and do interviews and stories.”

“The ITTA’s organisation of the tours and dedication of the staff and was fantastic,” says Chenai Mlizane, a mechanical technology teacher at John Orr. “The glow lit by Imperial shows in the learners’ eyes. I hope this initiative will spread to other schools around South Africa.”

Davids says the idea is to use the model that has been established and involve other organisations and schools.

*Marwaan Davids has since left Imperial and is now with the RMI – Ed.

Published by

Truck market continues to climb
Prev Truck market continues to climb
Next Navistar rumblings …
Navistar rumblings …

Leave a comment