Yakh’iFuture – building a strong pipeline of talent and further funding for NEVs to bring new skills to the automotive manufacturing sector

Friday 22 July saw the official launch of an interactive career experience platform that has been designed to prepare engineering students for work in the automotive components manufacturing industry.

Yakh’iFuture, which means ‘Build your future’, is the latest element of the High Gear programme that has revamped South Africa’s Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (TVET) colleges engineering curricula to meet the needs of one of the country’s most crucial industrial sectors – automotive manufacturing.

The launch event featured keynote addresses by Aruna Singh, Director: VET Curriculum at the Department of Higher Education and Training; Rudi Dicks from the Office of the Presidency; National Association of Automobile Components and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM) Executive Director, Renai Moothilal and Anusha Naicker, SA country director of High Gear implementing agency International Youth Foundation (IYF).

Following the announcement in June, that the UK Government would pledge a further $1.8 million to support South Africa’s just energy transition through new technical assistance and partnerships, Rebecca Tron of the British High Commission in Pretoria declared at the launch, that as part of this pledge it will sponsor the development of industry competency models for new energy vehicles (NEVs) through High Gear.

These models, pitched at diploma level (NQF levels 4-6), will generate curricula relevant to the global shift to non-internal combustion drive trains.

“The competency models will be constructed over the next eight months and will be relevant to all engineering students considering careers that will deal with building or servicing either the automotive components themselves or related infrastructure, such as charging stations,” said High Gear Programme Director Colin Hagans.

Digital content related to these competency models – including mini-games, learning aids and career guidance – will then be uploaded to the Yakh’iFuture platform.

In trial phase since 31 March 2022, Yakh’iFuture provides an interactive online learning platform that equips, inspires and connects young people to the automotive components manufacturing sector, enabling them to access, study, and work with confidence, while also providing career advice and guidance that aims to give them the best chance of being employed.

As one of the lead partners of High Gear, NAACAMs Executive Director, Renai Moothilal said that the partnership in the High Gear project was ground-breaking and reflective of the forward looking approach stakeholders in the component sector are taking to address skills needs for the future of SA’s automotive manufacturing.

In noting the recent high level of media interest around NEVs and the need for urgent policy shifts to support the SA Autos manufacturing sector into one that is NEV specific, Moothilal mentioned that SA already had a “strong base set of policies in play that supports all platform manufacturing whether ICE, or NEV”. He added that with a few tweaks and updates to support the transition to NEV platforms, the policy “should aim to capture greater local content, and reward investment in new skills and technology all the way down the value chain.”

The Presidency’s Rudi Dicks said that this collaborative model of curriculum design and career guidance resources can serve as a model for other sectors to replicate – “I believe that the Yakh’iFuture platform sets a new international benchmark for industry-led career guidance services provided at scale to TVET college students in this country.”

“I’m actually not even sure that it’s right to describe the platform as a career guidance website, because Yakh’iFuture does more than that. It celebrates South African industry, employees, and TVET innovation, and it serves to inspire the next generation of manufacturing leaders in this country,” he added.

Work and apprenticeship opportunities from the Office of the Presidency’s SAyouth.mobi platform will be linked to the Yakh’iFuture platform, as part of High Gear’s intention to address rising youth unemployment and the skills shortage restricting career options for the country’s youth.

“This platform will continue to evolve as industry trends and needs change, so that students can stay up to date with employer requirements. Students can also complement their studies after graduation, while accessing work opportunities and networking with potential employers via Yakh’iFuture. These are capabilities that will close the loop when it comes to industry demand and skills supply,” says IYF’s Anusha Naicker.

Despite its linkages with the TVET college curricula, Yakhi’Future was designed to be accessible to all young people who have an interest in the automotive components manufacturing industry. “No college-specific logins will be required and the site will ultimately be zero-rated to be as broadly accessible as possible. For both students and interested young people, Yakh’iFuture will showcase the various roles available in the sector – from entry level upwards – and outline career pathways and key competencies required for each path,” adds Naicker.

Aruna Singh, Chief Director, Programmes & Qualifications at the DHET, a lead partner of the High Gear project said, “It is important that we prioritise programmes and initiatives that enable skills development for young people and students alike to make them more employable and the Yakhi’Future platform has been designed to do just that.”

About High Gear

The National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers (NAACAM) and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) are the lead national partners of High Gear, a collaborative skills development initiative managed by IYF that is advancing South Africa’s public TVET college system.

High Gear draws on industry knowledge and skills imperatives—along with IYF curricula enhancement tools—to strengthen the market relevance of select public TVET college courses. High Gear uses its convening power to demonstrate a model for greater industry involvement in TVET course design and delivery that generates enthusiasm from TVET educators and industry, while also yielding positive returns for young people and employers.

The UK Government’s Skills for Prosperity Programme is funding High Gear implementation in KwaZulu-Natal Province, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation are funding project implementation in Eastern Cape Province. All three funding partners are supporting High Gear’s national stakeholder engagement and learning efforts.