THE rapid pace of technological change within the automotive sector is requiring suppliers are required to speedily identify and embed critical skills to secure global competitiveness.
That’s according to National Association of Automotive Components and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM) Commercial Director, Shivani Singh, who said the numerous skills and occupation gaps across the country’s automotive sector are proving to be a cross-cutting barrier to localisation.
“Without adequate skills, companies are unable to embed technology, raw material and testing infrastructure which prevents greater localisation,” she said, adding that the Sector Education Training Authority (SETA) system specifically partners with industry to ensure the design and delivery of skills promote industry growth and competitiveness.
However, despite the various SETAs offering support for manufacturers, many automotive suppliers are unsure how to leverage these mechanisms. “Recent data indicates that only 10% of firms in the sector apply for discretionary grants.
“A focus area for NAACAM is to support its members to embed a firm-level capacity to better leverage SETA funding, enhance relationships with TVET colleges and promote greater transformation. As such, the High Gear project, implemented by IYF and supported by NAACAM and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), has established a High Gear SETA Grant Advisory service.”
Singh said the service will advise NAACAM members on SETA grant application processes and encourage a more impactful use of SETA funds to support transformation and localisation in the sector, including through increased linkages to the public TVET college system.
The SETA Grant Advisory Service is funded by the UK Government’s Skills for Prosperity Programme and is currently only available for NAACAM members in KwaZulu-Natal, with the potential for expansion to other regions based on demand.
High Gear says its programme of activity follows the key role played by NAACAM in 2020 in advocating for and driving the set-up of an automotive components chamber within the MerSETA, which is the primary SETA for manufacturing related entities.
“As part of this service, the High Gear SETA Best Practice Guide has been developed by the High Gear Team in collaboration with NAACAM Associate member, Engeli Enterprise Development, and WomHub,” Singh said.
“The Guide provides companies practical advice about the funding options are available through the SETA; how to successfully leverage them to support transformation (including gender equity) and localisation; and the required governance and reporting procedures that follow.”