The Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) and Siemens (Pty) Ltd recognised 70 graduates from a joint Skills Development programme at a Commemoration Ceremony hosted in Johannesburg.

The joint venture between Siemens and the AIDC kicked off in 2008 when the conglomerate recognised a growing need to develop a pipeline of scarce and critical skills across various industries. Siemens then contracted the AIDC to manage a bursary programme which focused on developing qualified individuals for the absorption into key sectors.

The programme involved developing artisans, engineers, technicians and a range of semi-skilled workers who, once qualified, can contribute to the Government’s goal to continuously grow and create sustainable jobs. The AIDC’s Skills Development and Training department acted as an administration hub on behalf of Siemens, by facilitating training at external training institutions, and managing all aspects of the training programme according to a budget.

Under government’s national Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (ASGI-SA) scheme, Siemens became committed to training South Africans as part of its contracts for work at South African power stations and other infrastructure. Special attention was given to people with economic and educational disadvantages.

Speaking at the Commemoration Ceremony, Portia Mkhabela, Department Manager for Skills Development at the AIDC, said that it was a privilege for the organisation to be entrusted with a project of this magnitude. “We are proud to have contributed to the development of young individuals,” said Mkhabela. “We are privileged to have administered the training of students on this programme,” she explained.

Clifford Klaas, Executive Director and Head of Human Resources for Siemens in Southern and East Africa, highlighted that South Africa has a severe shortage of engineering and technical skills so we are working hard to train and develop people appropriate for a developing industrial economy.

“Developing skills and creating jobs is not just a fulfilment of our contractual obligations but an investment which enables us to be successful as an engineering business,” Klaas said. “Government is encouraging the development of skills which benefit every South African. This is a great example of business and government working well together,” he added.

Siemens has also absorbed many of the graduates into the company. One such student is Jaquolyn Mononyane, who matriculated in 2008, before studying electrical engineering at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). She was then placed on a further two-year Siemens graduate training programme where she is studying towards a BTech in electrical engineering. As part of her training, she has worked at the Sere wind farm in the Western Cape.

In 2015, Mononyane became the first female supervisor in Siemens’ North Riding facility. She is currently a supervisor in the facility’s medium voltage division, a job which was previously done by a skilled German employee.

Since the inception of the programme in 2008, the AIDC has facilitated the training of 206 students through 15 accredited universities and FET colleges. In addition, the AIDC identified 26 suitable companies for the placement of students at on-job training in Gauteng, Mpumulanga, and the North-West Province.

The AIDC also ensured that the study and placement programmes were project specific and linked to Eskom power stations, including Kusile, Medupi, Duvha, Ingula and Hendrina.

The AIDC continues to monitor the performance and progress of the students and provides reports to Siemens and Eskom. The total value of the programme to date is estimated at over R65 million.