In recent years, trade figures between South Africa and Germany have been at a record high with a trade volume of more than €17-billion recorded last year, says Southern Africa German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SAGCCI) CEO Matthias Boddenberg.
He adds that there is a positive development of exports from South Africa to Germany. “For this year, we are foreseeing a trade volume of over €18-billion.”
Boddenberg mentions that this is very encouraging in terms of new initiatives for the near future with the chamber set to embark on a structured and systematic approach to encourage more South African companies to export to Germany and Europe.
Further, SAGCCI deputy CEO Frank Aletter explains that there has been a great exchange of business contacts with German delegations visiting South Africa and vice versa. “South African companies participate regularly at German trade fair shows, which are leading shows globally, to expand their business.”
He notes that SAGCCI has been promoting trade and investment between South Africa and Germany since 1952.
The chamber currently has more than 600 companies as members, consisting of a combination of companies from South Africa, Germany and a few local non-German companies who have an interest in the German market. Chamber members employ about 90 000 people directly and another 90 000 indirectly, says Aletter.
Germany is the second-largest trading partner of South Africa and the second-largest importer of South African goods. “All efforts of the chamber contribute towards the successful and sustainable trade relationship between the two countries.”
SAGCCI currently offers the AdA ‘Train the Trainer’ apprenticeship. This is the highest International Certification for Apprenticeship Mentors programme that is accredited by the German Foreign Chambers of Commerce (AHKs), and the SAGCCI.
“Currently, 18 AHKs in Europe, America, Africa and Asia are already certifying company mentors according to the German model,” explains SAGCCI training and corporate social responsibility head Isabella Hlabangu.
She notes that there are two levels of AdA qualification courses: a basic and a comprehensive version. “At the SAGCCI, we offer the ‘AdA international – Full Version’ in English.”
The full version takes two weeks to complete, followed by one or two days of written and practical examination conducted by the SAGCCI. Participants who successfully pass the examination receive a certificate issued by the Association of German Chambers and SAGCCI.
The next training is scheduled to take place between November and December 2019 at SAGCCI.
Hlabangu notes that the apprenticeship enables company staff to educate apprentices in the practical part of a Dual Vocational Education Course in all kinds of professions. The German Dual Vocational System consists of 70% practical and 30% theory modules. The AdA course content is of general pedagogical/methodical character and thus in principle applicable to German standard dual vocational education in every profession.
“The purpose of this training is to provide the highest level of training for mentors, so that they have all the theoretical know-how and the practical knowledge needed to ensure that companies or colleges are training young professionals successfully.
“Further, SAGCCI has a three-and-a-half-year dual vocational mechatronic training programme. We are using both the German Mechatronics Technician Curriculum and the South African Mechatronics Apprenticeship Curriculum.”
Hlabangu explains that, during the course of the programme, apprentices will be employed by companies immediately for the duration of the programme. “During this time, apprentices will do both their theory and practical training at a training centre and then do job rotational training based on the logbook schedule at a company.”
This will provide the apprentices with experience and a qualification while receiving a monthly stipend.
On successful completion of all their examinations, both practical and theoretical, the apprentice will receive the South African Trade Test Red Seal Mechatronics Certificate as well as the German Internationally recognised Mechatronics Technician Certificate.
She adds that, by using the German Dual Vocational System, apprentices spend more time doing practical training at a company. “For example if it’s a company in the automotive industry, the apprentice will be trained and work on actual mechatronic systems for building a car on the real production line.”
In addition, she mentions that companies involved in the programme are in different industries and the apprentices will be able to rotate within these companies to gain the relevant working experience based on the strength of the company.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to improve the dual vocational educational programmes, curriculum and delivery strategies, the chamber has created an education and training advisory committee.
“To be effective and relevant, we believe it is critical that representatives from business, industry, educational institutions such as technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges and the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority all have the opportunity to provide input and service on this committee. We hope this committee helps to build trustworthy relationships between industry and all other institutions.”
She points out that the linkage between industry and training institutions is very important as this will allow industry to have a direct connection with the educational institutions and vice versa. “This will ensure that graduates coming from the TVET colleges are being educated and trained according to the industry needs.”
Moreover, the committee will assist and increase absorption of graduates into the industry as graduates would have been educated based on and using equipment relevant in the industry, concludes Hlabangu.