UPSKILLING YOUTH AND WOMEN IN THE AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY PROJECT: Automotive Training and Re-Skilling in the Post-COVID Economic Recovery for Vulnerable Youth and Women in South Africa PARTNERS: United Nations Development Programme Department of Higher Education and Training DONOR: Government of Japan Youth unemployment in South Africa is a significant challenge, with 46.5% of youth aged 15-34 who are not in education, employment, and training (NEET) in the second quarter of 2022, up from 40.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019 prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. The COVID-19 pandemic caused an economic downturn and interrupted learning by the closure of educational institutions to curb the spread, resulting in a deepened unemployment rate amongst youth. The automotive industry is key to South Africa’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis being the third largest sector in the country. The industry provides employment opportunities across various skills levels. As the industry is evolving rapidly with technological advances such as increased automation and robotics and smart manufacturing with artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning, skill requirements are also changing with new and emerging industry trends. It is critical to provide the right skillsets required by the industry. Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges play a pivotal role in meeting industry skill needs and appropriately upskilling youth and women. To support TVET colleges in providing demand-driven automotive training and equip youth and women with relevant job skills in a post-COVID-19 economy, including digital skills, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Africa, together with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) implemented a project ‘Automotive Training and Re-Skilling in the Post-COVID Economic Recovery for Vulnerable Youth and Women in South Africa,’ with funding support from the Government of Japan, supporting three TVET colleges: Coastal KZN TVET College (KwaZulu-Natal), Northlink College (Western Cape), and Tshwane South TVET College (Gauteng). To understand the specific needs and gaps in the TVET colleges landscape, UNDP conducted a rapid needs assessment of TVET colleges to identify common challenges and needs concerning the alignment with automotive industry needs and digitization of education post-COVID-19, and recommended areas of support. Key findings included the necessity to align the curricula with industry needs, modernized technical workshop equipment relevant to the 4th Industrial Revolution, information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and lecturers’ digital skills in teaching online, and graduates’ soft skills with syllabi and lecturer capacity to help them. Informed by the findings, UNDP has invested R6.5 million in new automotive technologies and training equipment, ICT equipment, and digital content for soft skills and science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) skills to enhance the training capacity of the three TVET colleges and youth employability. Two lecturer development programmes on automotive technical development and industry partnerships, and blended teaching and learning have also been implemented.
ZAR 6.5 M invested in new automotive training equipment, ICT equipment, and digital content. FIFTY-NINE lecturers and staff trained on automotive technical development and industry partnerships, blended teaching and learning. 354 STUDENTS benefitting from the mechanical, electrical, and electronic workshop equipment provided, including ICT equipment. Through the project, in partnership with Toyota South Africa Motors, the Toyota Manufacturing Academy was established within Coastal KZN TVET College with new automotive technologies and training equipment (mechanical, electrical, and electronic workshop equipment). Furthermore, UNDP with the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, trained unemployed youth through the accredited Operator Development and Work Placement Programme. The training component covered work readiness, Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI), and technical training in manufacturing and assembly. CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR DISADVANTAGED YOUTH, LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND GESI has been an intentional strategy in the Operator Development and Work Placement Programme. Opportunities have been created for youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with limited financial resources as 88% of the candidates were from township and rural areas. The high proportion has been reached by adopting a holistic inclusive approach, including the use of the zero-rated SAYouth.mobi platform for advertisement and application, telephonic briefing sessions for those who may not have had data or were unable to attend online briefing sessions, and the provision of a device and data for virtual training and a stipend for physical training. 24 STUDENTS enrolled at the Toyota Manufacturing Academy. 64 YOUTHS trained as Entry-level Manufacturing Operators. 4 of them linked to employment opportunities. 12230 STUDENTS registered on the SAYouth.mobi Platform. EXPANDING THE FRONTIER OF WOMEN’S WORK IN A PREDOMINANTLY MALE INDUSTRY The automotive industry has traditionally been male dominant. Automotive manufacturing, which required physical labour but is changing with technological advancement, has been widely perceived as men’s work. Hence, the programme has also focused on women’s inclusion. As a result, 41% of the candidates were women, which is higher than the women’s representation in the industry. GESI sessions focused on breaking gender stereotypes and gave female candidates a sense of empowerment as they saw themselves doing work they had previously believed could only be done by men. Not only upskilling youth and women has been a key focus, but connecting them to employment was an important component of the project. UNDP has contributed to strengthening the South African Government’s efforts in implementing two strategic networks for youth skill development and employment. One is the SAYouth.mobi Platform1 through the Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator under the Presidential Youth Employment Intervention to link youth to learning and earning opportunities. 694 REGISTERED users found employment and income generating opportunities through the platform. 126 VACANCIES listed in the platform by NAACAM members and AIDC. The other platform is a new online automotive career experience and guidance platform, Yakh’iFuture2 (Build Your Future), developed in partnership with National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers and the International Youth Foundation. It provides TVET college engineering students with career insight, skillsbuilding opportunities, and linkages to job search platforms, thereby enabling them to succeed in South Africa’s growing automotive components manufacturing sector. “They got rid of the shyness in me at the training centre, joh! That’s where the real life started. We were exposed to the workshop where we were actually doing everything with our own hands, and I thought this job was for men, but I know now I can do it too!” Nqobile Ntuli, KwaZulu-Natal. These project achievements reflect the power of strategic multi-stakeholder partnerships. The project serves as a pilot and the proof of concept for upscaled future rollouts. There is great potential for expansion across industries, occupations, and geographical locations. UNDP continues to explore a new phase and calls on our existing and new partners, such as government organizations, donors, industry bodies and employers across sectors, TVET colleges, Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) and civil society organizations, to join hands in benefitting more youth and women, and ensuring that no one is left behind towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 1https://sayouth.datafree.co/Home/Index/EN 2https://www.yakhifuture.org.za/