Slashing skills shortages
The skills shortage in the wheels game is no secret, but many companies are stepping up to bridge this gap. One such organisation is Volkswagen Group South Africa (VWSA) that spent more than R47 million on skills development last year alone.
Headed by Lesley Lee, VWSA’s in-house Learning Academy, which focuses on upskilling the company’s 4 300 plus employees, was officially launched in 2008. Its purpose is to provide training in the latest technology developments within the company’s respective departments.
VWSA spent R100 million on setting up the Learning Academy, which has five focus areas: production, leadership, technical, national sales and commercial. The investment also included the opening of training areas – complete with the equipment required to maintain global production standards and curricula tailored for each focus area.
The academy uses various approaches to train employees. These include instructor-led training, online learning, on-the-job training, coaching and mentoring as well as simulated exercises.
In 2009 the Learning Academy introduced a Learner Management System (e-Learning) that has made learning more accessible to all VWSA employees. The e-Learning system is an online, web-based platform, which provides training modules ranging from videos and articles to generic and customised content.
Employees can go online, either from their office computers or (in the case of production employees) at one of the seven specifically designated learning facilities – with facilitators on hand to guide them.
“The online training modules are accessible at all times of the day and allow employees to work at their own pace,” says Lee. “It has moved the focus of learning in the company from trainer-centred to a more learner-centred approach.”
She adds that learners are now also able to manage and track their own learning on the system and ensure that they meet the requirements of their individual development plans.
Besides being dedicated to internal development, the academy also assists employees to give their children a good education. Last year 508 employees received grants towards the costs of their children’s school, college or university education.
David Powels, managing director of VWSA, adds: “Through our educational spend VWSA contributes towards the socio-economic development of the Eastern Cape. This is a strong acknowledgement of the value we place on education and the support for our employees.”