Kickstart your career with apprenticeships and earn while you learn

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Grade 12 learners from the class of 2021 were celebrated last week but media reports are mixed, painting a grim employment outlook for many of these school leavers. Experts and academics have predicted that as many as seven out of 10 matrics looking for a job this year will not find one, heightened by an unacceptably high unemployment rate of 34,9%.

Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry (RMI), the largest collective employer in the automotive aftermarket, says there is no doubt that small business will be the ones to drive the economy in the future providing much needed employment. Apprenticeships for young people are an excellent way of getting a foot into a shrinking employment pool. “Best of all, young South Africans who embrace apprenticeships can enjoy earning whilst they learn.  This is an important enabler for many young people to be able to make a monetary contribution to parents or custodians, and get them from their residences to either the training institution or the workplace.” 

RMI’s National Training Director, Louis van Huyssteen says learners with a positive attitude, an eagerness to use their opportunity, and discipline are welcomed in the sector and young ideals of a long and prosperous career can indeed become a real reality. 

“We are experiencing a chronic skills shortage in our sector ranging from motor body repair and spray painting; petrol mechanics; diesel mechanics; automotive engineering and machining; engine fitting; welding; vehicle bodybuilding, and auto electrical.” Van Huyssteen explains from apprentice level, one qualifies to artisan, also called journeymen status, after successful completion of a trade test. “The opportunities to specialise are exciting allowing young people to explore sought after expert areas including colour mixer and matcher; application of waterborne and 2 and 3 stage pearlescent paint; passenger and commercial vehicle technicians; vehicle engine remanufacturing; diagnostic and fault finding technicians; coded welding, and steering geometry and advanced driver-assistance systems.”, he says.

The statistics at RMI’s disposal over the past 2 years, show a small growth in employer registrations at the motor industry bargaining council. ‘We believe this is due to qualified, highly skilled and expert artisans seizing the opportunity to start their own businesses.  We appreciate that real entrepreneurs see opportunities; identify markets; employ more staff as they grow; pay taxes, and strive to meet and exceed Government and industry regulations and requirements to be law-abiding businesses so this is encouraging news for our sector.” says Olivier.

“Not every young person has the privilege of going to university and even then they are not guaranteed of a job. For the 177 572 young people who achieved a diploma pass they are now eligible for study at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and the automotive sector is a great place to start.,” he concludes.

Sources for motor industry careers and training institutions:

Department Higher Education and Training National Career Advice Portal Khetha’ (; merSETA’s career portal (;  TVET colleges’ with engineering campuses and those offering motor-related apprenticeships (; corporate motor vehicle dealer groups with private training centres such as the Motus Training Academy (; Barloworld Motor Retail South Africa (; other related private institutions include Artisan Training Institute (; SA Institute of Welding (; AFRIT (; SA Truck Bodies Training Centre (on Facebook –, and Kigima auto electrical training centre (                     

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