Revving up social responsibility through transformation
If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime, reads the often quoted saying full of social wisdom.
The RMI strives to be socially accountable—to ourselves, our stakeholders and the motor industry at large. The heart of the RMI’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) lies within its skills development initiatives that enable young people to skill up and level up and get ready for the business environment.
“Training and skills development remain one of the leading priorities for the RMI. The organisation is constantly seeking solutions and driving projects to support employers with re-skilling and upskilling their employees and attracting new artisans into the industry. Hands-on training and work experience are what young, up-and-coming learners need to be ready to enter the workspace in the motor industry,” says Louis van Huyssteen, national training director.
As a result the RMI’s CSR is of a transformation nature and one we have proudly been focusing on for the past three years.
“Transformation is far more than BEE compliance, it is about providing support for smaller businesses within the informal automotive sector. It is critical that we strengthen our current partnerships with agencies like SEDA,
AIDC and NAAASP so that we can provide an environment in which small business programmes can thrive. One of the challenges of the initiative is the ability to find ways of keeping township business within the townships. We need to supply the right skills training and equipment support so that this revenue can stay within the informal sector and can start making a meaningful contribution to overall economic growth,” says Jakkie Olivier, CEO of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI).
The Skills Development Act 97 of 1998 has several purposes, amongst others to develop the skills of the South African workforce to (i) improve the quality of life of workers, their prospects of work and labour mobility; (ii) improve productivity in the workplace and the competitiveness of employers; (iii) promote self-employment; and (iv) improve the delivery of social services.
We recognise that the RMI needs to partner with others in order to accel- erate transformation and in order to achieve the purposes of the abovemen- tioned Skills Development Act. Up until now we have had great initiatives with the TVET colleges and with government, as well as encouraging youth employment through the YES (Youth Employment Service) programme and encouraging employment through the automotive value chain of the RMI, its constituent associations and membership but we need to do more.
The RMI previously initiated a training programme for small businesses in this sector to bridge them from the informal to formal sector, and are trying to facilitate access to funding where small and informal businesses can acquire the necessary tools and equipment to become RMI accredited and compliant. “The gap very often includes knowledge sharing for compliance purpos- es. For example all entities in South Africa need to be Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) compliant and able to withstand an inspection from the Department Employment and Labour.
The RMI’s preferred provider of OHS shared examples of 14-day compliance notices issued by the Department’s inspectors to businesses on lacking COVID measures. An OHS compliant business gives both comfort to their employees and those in the value chain who works with them. CSRS’s Peter Roodman worked hand-in-hand over the past six months, on an OHS Wholesale and Retail SETA (WRSETA) initiative, with RMI colleagues to assist development members and petroleum retail- ers with an online solution to comply with the training of staff requirement in the relevant Act. The access to online OHS compliance courses resulting in certificates is praiseworthy. CSRS moved the majority of their courses online in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic which allowed for the RMI to encourage interested businesses to participate in this great funded WRSETA initiative. The fact that there was very few strings attached to access the opportunity by the WRSETA, supported 19 of the development businesses on the RMI’s New Venture Creation program to participate. The RMI trusts when a future opportunity presents itself, these 19 businesses will moti- vate others to participate on the journey to become OHS compliant”, says Tshabalala, RMI Transformation Director.
Back in 2019 and pre-COVID times, the RMI through various initiatives and national roadshows, signed up over 300 informal businesses as development members. Other successes include the RMI’s New Venture Creation (NVC) project, in collaboration with the merSETA, which talks to the promotion of self-employment and, more specifically, in the automotive aftermarket. These development members fall into four categories namely mechanical workshops, motor body repairs, fitment centres and vehicle part retailers.
The RMI has welcomed these NVC members at previous RMI AGMs where they were further equipped with valuable information regarding how the RMI operates and functions. The first group of learners will conclude their programme in the first half of 2022. The RMI’s own Associational Representatives work hand in hand with the development members throughout their journey to becoming accredited members.
Zizipho Sikhom, motor mechanic apprentice at eastern cape midlands college talking with passion about her decision to become a motor mechanic.
Peter Roodman, of complete specialised Retail solutions (csRs), discusses findings of regulatory compliance inspection with isaac boshomane, owner of Kgabo cars. isaac, being one of the Rmi’s new venture creation program’s learners, was given an opportunity by peter to complete workshop safety online learning courses on the csRs learning platform.
An example of RMI assistance and a success story is that of Speed Boys panel beaters who was assisted and guided by SAMBRA representative Uvashen Bramiah. Speed Boys registered as a NAAASP member in May 2018 and only five months later grew into a registered SAMBRA Non-Structural Repairer (NSR) accredited member with an OEM recommendation. This is just one example of how the guidance of RMI and its relevant Associations can assist any business in becoming a force to be reckoned with in the industry.
Another success story is that of Norman Nemavhanbu from Masase Automotive in Pretoria. He walked the road from development member to accredited member status with MIWA association representative Marcia Modiba. “The fact that Norman also approached the merSETA for workplace approval to train apprentices is very encouraging. Opening up workplaces for young South Africans to train, and them either be employed following the duration of the apprenticeship and successfully trade tested, or become self-employed is the one of the answers to address our country’s unemployment and alleviate poverty,” says Van Huyssteen. He added that both employers and skills development providers should consider collaboration, and submit proposals, to access funding from Sector Education Training Authorities (SETAs); other related or non-related sources, for technical training of ladies and individuals with special needs to live their dreams and become part of the economic active population.
“Kgabo Cars Training Centre in Soshanguve heeded the need of a group of young people with special needs to train as motor mechanics. The eager- ness of these young people to learn and compete with abled mechanics is truly laudable and justifies consideration of financial support. Likewise Dr Frik Botha, better known as ‘Oom Frik’, from ITC based in Pretoria is an avid supporter of the RMI and friend of the industry. In his capacity he has been training hearing impaired panel beaters through his skills programmes,” said Van Huyssteen.
The RMI constantly provides the industry with valuable information, protocols and news, especially regarding COVID-19. More than 160 communications have been sent to our members since the inception of lockdown, providing members with guidance on a variety of issues including how to mitigate the risk of spreading the virus within the workplace for the safety of their employees and customers. All of this communication and more is available on the RMI website for future reference.
From time to time the RMI recognises the need for assistance from training providers. The RMI goes about selecting beneficiaries in a very dedicated manner. Over the past couple of years the RMI has made training material donations to both private and public training providers for the benefit of learners from developing, informal and rural communities in close proximity of the training providers. These donations benefited socio-economic development which ultimately adds to the growth of our economy and again promotes BBBEE. Ultimately a shared goal of government is to encourage business to commit to development and empowerment which in turn enables individuals and communities to better their lives.
These initiatives speak to the RMI’s objective of advancing the Organisation’s transformation agenda, and therefore it’s responsibility to-wards the motor industry, as a whole. The RMI’s transformation committee is steered by Ferose Oaten, previous RMI president, and her committee comprising of members representing all subsectors of the industry. Two such success stories come from committee members and ladies – Precious Manaka who runs a vehicle restoration business outside Pretoria and Madira Cheze who is a qualified motor mechanic from Soshanguve, Pretoria North. Both these ladies form part of the RMI’s New Venture Creation program.
Furthermore, the RMI is directly involved in creating capacity with regards to college structures at four TVET colleges. The RMI assists the implementation committees, inactive engagements with participating employers on the Department Higher Education and Training Centres of Specialisation program.
Last year the RMI and the Chamber of Crafts Erfurt, also more popularly known as Handwerkskammer Erfurt (HWK), concluded a partnership to drive vocational training in the automotive aftermarket in the Eastern Cape. The RMI assists these TVET Colleges to build capacity and also to be considered by the private sector as a skills provider or training centre of choice. To further facilitate this process, the RMI call on accredited members businesses, in the proximity of the motor campuses, to create opportunities for demonstrating vehicle repair processes and general discussions on best practices.”
Transformation, training, skills development and corporate social re- responsibility all go hand-in-hand and as a whole is something we can only achieve if we as an industry stand together. The RMI as the leading voice in the automotive aftermarket sector, would like to encourage existing businesses to find ways of supporting small business, pulling in the thousands of informal businesses that exist in the sector.