Association’s initiatives plugging skills gaps

Image of an automotive component in a manufacturing process

CURRICULUM IMPROVEMENTS High Gear has focused on ensuring that lecturers and educators can teach these curriculums in a more engaging manner, using digital learning tools

23rd September 2022

By: Cameron Mackay

Creamer Media Senior Online Writer


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The National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM’s) skills development and career pathway management initiatives – such as High Gear and the Yakh’iFuture platform – have provided ideal platforms for local training institutions to understand the requirements of the local automotive component manufacturing sector.

High Gear, which began in 2020, aims to create a skills development ecosystem that meets the needs of young people and employers in the local automotive manufacturing sector.

The initiative fosters collaboration between stakeholders in the automotive components manufacturing sector – the Department of Higher Education and Training and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges, as well as the International Youth Foundation, which manages it.

The four-year initiative is funded by the UK government, non-profit organisation the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and the US Agency for International Development.

“We’ve identified TVET partner colleges, one in KwaZulu-Natal and one in the Eastern Cape. We’ve also undertaken curriculum diagnostics to understand the current courses they teach that are relevant to automotive components, and how far these courses are from global best practice and industry requirements,” says NAACAM commercial director Shivani Singh.

She adds that, in addition to examining and improving the curriculums being taught, High Gear has focused on ensuring that lecturers and educators can teach these curriculums in a more engaging manner, using digital learning tools.

Further, the initiative has also introduced work-integrated learning for students and lecturers to assist them in becoming familiar with workplace requirements. The initiative will also assist lecturers who are knowledgeable on the required content but have not worked in an industrial environment before.

“We’re also focusing on donations of tool kits, which comprise equipment used by component suppliers, that lecturers and students can use, and on introducing industry guest lecturers, where we reach out to young people working in the sector and ask them to become guest lecturers so that students can ask practical questions about the day-to-day nature of their jobs and future career pathway mapping.”

Singh emphasises that the High Gear initiative has also received support from original-equipment manufacturer Volkswagen, a university in the Eastern Cape and a NAACAM Tier-1 supplier.

“Our objective is to introduce High Gear into TVET colleges in all of the automotive component hubs. We would like High Gear to be introduced in Gauteng, particularly in the Rosslyn area in Tshwane, as well as the Western Cape. Plans are under way for an expansion into Gauteng, as that is our next implementation area.”


Singh highlights the Yakh’iFuture digital career guidance platform – launched in July 2022 – as one of the most significant successes of the High Gear initiative.

The interactive, online career experience platform is designed to help TVET college students and other graduates in their careers in automotive components manufacturing.

It was designed with continuous input from NAACAM members, as well as TVET college students and lecturers.

“NAACAM members highlighted a key challenge in that, while many young people graduate with the necessary skills, component suppliers still need to invest in company-specific training in other skills related to workplace environments. We want to bridge this gap to prepare young people for the practicalities of the workplace experience.”

She adds that Yakh’iFuture has also been awarded funding to develop learning content on new-energy vehicles.

Edited by Zandile Mavuso
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Features




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