(East London) – A R130-million learning academy, which has been under construction since 2014, has opened its doors in the Eastern Cape coastal city of East London.
The academy is the result of a joint investment by Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) and the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, which has seen the MBSA Technical Training Centre transform into a fully fledged Learning Academy.
The joint agreement comes at a time of rapid advancement of automotive technologies, such as robotics and automation, requiring a continuous upskilling of the workforce.
The MBSA Learning Academy currently has around 180 students, but is expanding to have surplus capacity available to also provide artisans for the broader community. The Academy employs 14 technical instructors.
“We strive, with the intake, to build the right skills pipeline for our business,” says MBSA CEO and manufacturing executive director Arno van der Merwe. “The Mercedes-Benz Learning Academy aims to be the most advanced automotive training facility in the country.
“Education and skills development are of paramount importance to the business and the sustainability of our company and the communities in which we operate.”
The training currently on offer at the academy includes shop floor skills training for the automotive industry, apprenticeships focused on qualifying new artisans and advanced technology training to upskill existing artisans.
It is possible for other vehicle manufacturers to copy the MBSA and Jobs Fund partnership, but the “initiative lies with industry to do so”, says Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas. “If the proposals for similar projects are viable, then we can respond.”
However, he warns that it is “not an easy process to get access to the Jobs Fund”.
It is a “rigorous process” and government will only deploy funds where it can gain the “maximum value for money”.
“Mercedes-Benz worked hard to get this.”