Transforming Passion into a Career in Automotive Painting
Jacques Viljoen, national director of the South African Motor Body Repair Association (SAMBRA)

In a world increasingly focused on innovation and technology, the automotive industry remains a vibrant canvas for artistic expression and technical mastery and an exciting opportunity for young talent wishing to enter the sector.

The South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA), in collaboration with industry leaders, is working hard to address the urgent skills shortage in the autobody repair and refinishing sector.

Jacques Viljoen, national director for SAMBRA, a constituent association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), says that being a car painter requires a unique blend of science and artistry. "It's more than just applying a fresh coat of colour - it's about transforming a vehicle into a work of art on wheels and this is a highly sought-after scarce skill that is in high demand both locally and globally."

At a time when many young people are struggling to find employment, the rewarding world of automotive painting definitely provides an exciting opportunity for aspirant young talent.

Trevor Vogl, Regional Technical Manager for BASF Coatings South Africa concurs saying, "We are experiencing a massive skills shortage, not just locally but internationally as well. There is a need to find new and relevant ways of drawing people into a career in our industry."

Viljoen provides insight into the various techniques and skills that modern car painters need to master, ranging from surface preparation and colour matching to spray painting and creative detailing. "It's a dynamic and challenging field that demands a combination of technical know-how and artistic flair."

Highlighting the industry's commitment to nurturing talent, South Africa currently has six candidates gearing up for the national competition in February 2024, with all six receiving comprehensive training to prepare for the 47th WorldSkills Competition in Lyon, France, in September 2024.

BASF, a global sponsor of the automotive spray painter activities within the WorldSkills initiative, holds a crucial position in fostering skills development and training. Wayne Brandon from BASF acts as the subject matter expert for Automotive Spray Painting—one of the trades Team South Africa will engage in during the upcoming 2024 WorldSkills competition in Lyon.

Boitumelo Mphanya, RMI Training Manager, encourages young South Africans to explore opportunities to become a qualified automotive painter. Public higher education institutions and accredited skills development providers like Motheo in Bloemfontein, False Bay in Cape Town, and C3 in Bloemfontein, NF Apprentices and ITC in Gauteng offer pathways to acquiring the necessary skills.

Mphanya suggests potential automotive spray painters arrange opportunities to view the job firsthand, whether through job shadowing, consultations with friends and relatives in the industry, or exploring educational institutions. He emphasises that reading and watching online resources also provide valuable insights.

Viljoen underlines SAMBRA's commitment to promoting trades in the motor body repair industry, highlighting a Memorandum of Understanding with Motheo TVET College in Bloemfontein. He encourages young South Africans to explore opportunities at the colleges’ campuses, which are equipped to cater to their interests.

SAMBRA is also actively supporting the Hollard initiative, collaborating with C3, a private skills development provider, and a decentralised trade test center in Bloemfontein. Any candidates interested in participating in the Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) project can contact C3 Academy or SAMBRA directly.


Maile expresses C3's pride in Neo Motshabela, a qualified motor body repairer and co-owner at C3 Academy, who has been appointed as the designated South African WorldSkills expert for the motor body repair trade—an integral part of the trades Team South Africa will participate in during the upcoming 2024 WorldSkills competition in Lyon.

In transforming passion into a career, SAMBRA, industry leaders, and educational institutions stand united to paint a brighter future for young South Africans in the automotive industry.