aidc, unido, competitiveness, training, automotive

The Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) in Gauteng, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the International Labour Office (ILO), have launched  a pilot programme for the development and application of a methodology to upgrade tier 2 and lower suppliers in the South African automotive industry.

The purpose of the programme is to strengthen the South African automotive industry supplier base to become increasingly competitive and sustainable. The five companies selected as part of the pilot project includes Auto Industrial Foundry, Gasket Manufacturing Corporation, Prevail Engineering, African Electroplating and Feltex Fehrer.

As part of the pilot programme, the AIDC will develop an integrated approach to improve the competitiveness of lower tier suppliers in the automotive industry, in line with the strategy of the Automotive Supply Chain Competitiveness Initiative (ASCCI). The AIDC will also leverage off its own supplier development programmes to drive supply chain development growth across the automotive industry.

Over the last decade, the AIDC’s Supplier and Enterprise Development department has worked closely with various automotive industry institutions, as well as the UNIDO to develop and implement the Tirisano Cluster Programme, which was supported by the dti.

Speaking at the project kick-off, Robert Novak, Industrial Development Officer at UNIDO, said that it is an inception phase programme to boost sustainability and best practices amongst small and medium enterprise suppliers in South Africa. “We are currently working on a one year pilot programme and we hope to develop SMMEs into globally competitive companies,” said Novak. “At the end of the pilot phase, we will then launch a fully-fledged programme over the next three to four years,” he added.

Jens Dyring Christensen, Chief Technical Advisor at ILO, explained that labour relations and good work practices can assist to improve productivity and global competitiveness at local automotive manufacturing plants. “Responsible work practices and good labour management assists in raising productivity levels in local automotive manufacturing companies, Christensen explained. “This can also reduce absenteeism,” he added.

Claude Pillay, Senior Project Manager at the AIDC, explained that the programme’s methodology was a result of a collaboration between the AIDC, UNIDO and ILO. “Each organisation was able to offer expertise from their own previous programmes and this contributed towards developing a methodology which can be implemented at primarily lower tier automotive manufacturing companies,” said Pillay. “We want to develop a final methodology with input from the industry during the pilot phase, and we will have regular discussions with our five participating companies to shape the final programme,” he explained.

Nkumbuzi Ben-Mazwi, Department Manager: Supplier and Enterprise Development at the AIDC, was elated to get the project off the ground. “The AIDC and UNIDO previously collaborated on similar programmes, with 65 companies who benefited from those Supplier Development Programmes,” said Ben-Mazwi. “ILO will also support our programmes with labour relations and stability matters based on their global expertise on this topic,” he added.

Due to the AIDC’s mandate of developing Gauteng and the South African automotive sector, the organisation continues to play a critical role in developing and enhancing the existing supplier development initiatives.

The pilot programme kicks off with its first training session during the first quarter of 2016.