MEC for the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism MEC Sakhumzi Somyo announced that in a landmark agreement, the department had entered into an agreement with Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) to create 500 internships opportunities after which 360 trained artisans will be permanently placed.
The MBSA Learning Academy, which has been established in partnership with the East London IDZ and Buffalo City Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College, will help to address the skills shortage in East London in the private and public sector.
The East London automotive manufacturer and one of the largest employers in the city said it intends to draw artisans and interns from academy into sustainable employment at its plant.
MBSA will also source state of the art technology and equipment for the academy while technical experts will share skills with the learners.
Somyo said that he anticipates that the investment will attract other companies who have been sceptical of investing in East London due to the skills shortage thereby unlocking potential for new job opportunities.
He pointed out that the competitiveness of the automotive sector in the Eastern Cape was constrained by insufficient sector specific skills, low local content production levels in the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and the absence of a metal surface treatment plant.
The Automotive Industry Development Centre in the Eastern Cape and the Jobs Fund were co-funding the initiative.
The initiative comprises three interrelated projects in the automotive industry’s value chain: the engineering and supplier skills development programme, the manufacturing business incubators in Mdantsane and Nelson Mandela Bay; and the Metal Surface Treatment (MST) facility in East London. The MST facility will create 446 permanent jobs and place 68 graduates.