VWSA MD Andreas Tostmann says, “The goal is to develop 200 unemployed young people towards autotronics and motor mechanic qualifications over the next three years.” The programme will entail the national recruitment of highpotential, unemployed youth and their enrolment in apprenticeships and learnerships, with theory provided at colleges or centres of excellence.
Practical training will be provided at Volkswagen dealerships.
Meanwhile, Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA) will spend more than R400-million on training and skills development between now and 2010. Communications manager Bill Stephens says there is a huge skills shortage in South Africa and it is imperative to develop skills.
The special project, entitled People for the Future, covers a range of initiatives that will be to the benefit of approximately 6 500 employees, 45 000 people in the national Volkswagen and Audi dealer networks and over a 1 000 people in the local community.
Tostmann says the lack of skills is a major concern to the motor industry, which contributes 7,6% of the country’s gross domestic product, second only to the mining industry.
“With the challenge of increasing volumes comes the need to adapt to increasingly sophisticated technologies used in modern vehicles.
“Coping with these two factors simultaneously will be impossible if there is a shortage of sufficiently skilled people,” says Tostmann who adds that the automaker’s skills programme consists of several ini-tiatives.
The first is to further the education of its employees through the Volkswagen Education and Training Institute (ETI).
The ETI consists of several specialist training departments, including technical, manufacturing, leadership, management and business skills development, as well as corporate trainee and bursar programmes.
Secondly, the Volkswagen Community Trust manages inter-ventions within the local community. The trust was established in 1989 to assist communities in playing an active role in their own develop- ment. The trust currently funds projects related to education, job creation and health. The third initiative is VWSA’s public–private partner- ship, the Uitenhage Despatch Develop- ment Initiative (UDDI).
The UDDI is a joint venture between Volkswagen, business, the Department of Labour and the community and aims to create new jobs and reduce unemployment in the area.
One of the key UDDI job-creation projects, the regional skills pool, was launched in 2003 with 934 school leavers completing training.
UDDI related projects have already resulted in the creation of over 3 000 new jobs in the Uitenhage area. The company also announced a new development, in the shape of the VWSA international chair in automotive engineering at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University which will come to fruition in April, 2007.
“The chair’s objective is to provide engineering students with research capacity and to help them identify applications for new technologies in component and vehicle manufacturing processes. “The chair will present a worldclass programme offering engineering bursaries and enabling participants to study in Germany as part of an international exchange programme,” says Tostmann.
In addition, VWSA has donated 16 unsaleable vehicles to local schools and colleges for technical training and skills development purposes.
Thirteen Eastern Cape-based learning institutions offering technical education in the automotive field will make use of the left-hand drive Golfs in their technical training workshops.
Stephens explains that the 16 vehicles are legally not allowed to be driven on South African roads.
“Rather than strip them and recycle the parts, VWSA decided that pupils and students would bene-fit from studying the advanced tech-nology used in the cars in their pre- scribed technical courses. The technology in the vehicles range from 1,4-? petrol engines to 1,9-? TDI and two-litre FSI specification,” adds Stephens.
The institutions have been selected on the grounds that they offer technical education in the automotive field.
Stephens tells Engineering News that as most of the technical graduates are destined to pursue further qualifications in the artisan field, access to the vehicles would increase their skills and understanding of state-of-the-art technology in the motor manufacturing and ser-vice industry.
The donation of the 16 vehicles is linked to the skills development unit of the Uitenhage Despatch Development Initiative.
The initiative is a facilitating body that has been established to promote sustainable development in the region.
“We view our strategic partnerships with government, business, tertiary institutions and the community as key components to the future of Volkswagen and related manufacturing industries in the country. Volkwagen of South Africa is not only committed to building people’s cars to meet people’s needs, but also to building ‘people for the future’. This will secure the future of our company, our country and our people,” comments Tostmann.
VWSA has invested R750-million in the new paint shop in the Eastern Cape.
It has a surface area of 45 000 m2 which equates to seven soccer fields or the size of the Sandton convention centre.
The construction process has seen 18 000 m3 of concrete being used.
The volume of concrete would enable the construction of a 65-km wall between Johannesburg and Pretoria 1,8 m high and 15 cm thick.
Two thousand, nine hundred and fifty tons of reinforced steel has gone into the construction.
According to Stephens, everything is on schedule for the technical equipment and machinery to be installed inside the building.
He says, “In a vehicle-manufacturing facility such as we have in Uitenhage, the paint shop is at the heart of the manufacturing process. Without painted bodies on schedule, with the required quality of finish, we do not have a business. The output from the paint shop dictates the rate at which we can build cars. “Therefore, this investment is literally like putting a new heart into our plant in Uitenhage. “This will give renewed energy and life to our productivity and enable VWSA to capture future domestic and export growth opportu- nities.” The new paint shop will be fully operational in the first quarter of 2007. Tostmann envisages VWSA bringing four new pro- ducts onto the local and export market in the next three years. Over the past six years, VWSA has invested in excess of R3-billion in plant, machinery and facilities to enable growth. Over the next two years, the company will invest a further billion rand in plant, facilities and new product introductions.
VWSA has increased its workforce by 19% over the past two years and Tostmann recently revealed that the manufacturer’s vehicle exports had grown to 30% over the past two years. The Uitenhage-based com- pany had established itself as “the number one vehicle exporter in 2005”.
By 2008, VWSA will have invested over R6-billion in new models, a new paint shop and a new truck and bus assembly plant.
This aggressive investment strategy is now critical to the region that suffers from extremely high unemployment.
According to the manufacturer, production at its Uitenhage plant grew from 78 000 vehicles in 2003 to over 112 000 in 2005, enabling the company to increase its total number of employees by 19% during the period.
“Over 1 000 new jobs have been created in Uitenhage alone, excluding similar or new jobs that have been created within the Volks-wagen supplier network,” says Tost-mann.
New finance director
A new director was appointed at Volkswagen of South Africa as the outgoing director, Carsten Isensee, joins the board of management for finance and corporate strategy at Volkswagen of Brazil.
Stephen Mund assumed the role of director of finance in Dec-ember.Mund held the position of commercial manager at Siemens Automotive in Slovakia from 1994 until 1998. He joined Volkswagen’s Bordnetze Group in 1999 as commercial manager. His appointment included a position on the supervisory board governing all locations.
He joined Volkswagen AG’s Wolfsburg plant in 2002, as auto-mobile production control man- ager. In 2004, he was appointed finance director of Volkswagen Autoeuropa, Portugal.
He held this post until his most recent appointment at Volkswagen of South Africa.