Gear up for South Africa’s Electric Vehicle Revolution

The International Youth Foundation’s engineering offshoot, High Gear, has been connecting electrical and mechanical engineering Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college students to the automotive industry for over two years now.

The programme begins at grassroots level by integrating a skills-based practical approach in TVET colleges across the country, preparing electrical and mechanical engineering students for the working world by creating an efficient pipeline of talent whose skills align with industry requirements.

Yakhi’Future, which translates to “build a future” is an online career experience platform connecting TVET college students with resources to excel in engineering courses, practice manufacturing tasks through fun mini-games, and ultimately learn more about and pursue careers in automotive components manufacturing. The platform has been effective in digitising the learning space in line with the IYF’s mission to expand and scale Information Communication Technology (ICT) resources and application in the Post School Education and Training (PSET) System.

As the automotive sector evolves, High Gear is committed to further equipping students with skills that will be required in the near future. And electric vehicles (EVs) are very much a part of that future.

With limited fossil fuel resources, electric vehicles are the next logical step in sustainable private transport. Increasing urbanisation has meant that more people require private transport, and unfortunately this is continually harmful to the environment, rising already dangerously high CO2 levels. This has led to a greater need for upskilling automotive engineering TVET students, as electric vehicles rise in popularity.

According to the Platform for Electromobility, a European research and advocacy alliance intended to share expertise within the e-mobility system, the European Union Electromobility sector is poised to generate 1.1 million jobs by 2030. With this knowledge in mind, High Gear is determined to equip South Africa’s rising automotive engineering talent with the resources needed to ensure the country can feasibly respond to the inevitable future rise in electric vehicle output and popularity.

This forward-thinking approach aims to prepare engineering students for the rather certain eventuality of electric vehicles dominating the private transportation space, filling a gap in the industry that needs to be addressed if the country is to follow global trends in transportation and sustainability.

In collaboration with the British High Commission of South Africa, High Gear is currently in the research phase to identify priority EV competencies necessary to support the growth and functioning of South Africa’s EV manufacturing and servicing sectors and enable more TVET graduates to enter this emerging industry with the ultimate goal of creating a sustainable avenue from graduation to employment.

By reviewing existing global models, the research will provide High Gear insight into South Africa’s readiness for the electric vehicle revolution. The initiative is excited to announce that it is making considerable headway into understanding potential implementation processes that could fast-track the PSET space’s capacity for integrating EV engineering courses into their existing curricula.

The eventual goal is to equip all budding automotive engineers in TVET colleges with the necessary skills to attend to both fossil-fuel and electric vehicle requirements. By doing so, High Gear will not only increase the country’s talent pool in the sector but provide essential skilled human capital to the fast-growing EV industry. This will ultimately empower students, create jobs and boost South Africa’s economy.

Moreover, this upskilling could lead to an expedition of the shift to electric vehicles in South Africa, which will create a significantly more sustainable environment, decreasing pollution and CO2 levels as well as improve air quality.

The shift to more sustainable private transportation systems will be of massive benefit to the country’s economy and the global climate. It is comforting to know that High Gear is preparing for this shift by focusing on creating a workforce that will be prepared for it as it happens. With an efficiently trained and skilled EV sector, we won’t be left high and dry, but with high hopes for the future.  

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