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in motoring

The auto dealer body is encouraging careers in South Africa’s retail motor industry amid a growing skills shortage.

A growing shortage of critical skills in the retail automotive sector has prompted the National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) to take steps to inspire more individuals to pursue a career in the field.

“The NADA membership is united in its commitment to attracting, retaining, and upskilling talent within this dynamic industry,” said NADA National Chairperson Brandon Cohen.

The shortage of skilled professionals seeking to enter the motor industry, particularly the retail sector, is not unique to South Africa; it is a global challenge. For instance, the automotive service and repair industry in the United States of America currently faces an estimated shortage of over 40,000 workers, including roughly 27,000 qualified technicians and 13,500 apprentices.

In Australia, various motor industry associations have come together to address this significant issue. Unfortunately, an Australian survey shows that many automotive apprentices leave the trade prematurely without completing their training.

Thembinkosi Pantsi, NADA vice-chairperson and head of the action group, said: “NADA in South Africa has already established an Automotive Careers Promotional action group to lay the groundwork for a sustainable programme. We are developing a multifaceted strategy to combat the skills shortage through collaboration with relevant organisations and associations across the value chain, all working toward the common goal of introducing more appropriately skilled individuals into this dynamic work environment.

“The automotive retail sector offers a multitude of diverse career opportunities, spanning from academic, operational, sales, and technical roles to administration and finance. A car dealership, for instance, comprises six businesses in one, encompassing new car sales, used car sales, finance and insurance, service workshops, parts, and back-office administration and management. Career growth and training opportunities extend from dealers to manufacturers and related service providers.

“Furthermore, there are numerous opportunities for specialised learning due to recent technological advancements in motor vehicles. These opportunities include working with hybrid or electric vehicles, programming and diagnostics, and advanced driver assistance systems technology.”

NADA has engaged in discussions with CEOs of major companies that constitute the NADA Motor Retailers’ Forum, who share NADA’s perspective and pledge their full support through their various dealerships.

Other strategies to be implemented include individual dealerships forming partnerships with high schools to promote job and career prospects in the automotive retail sector. This will involve high-visibility dealer participation in career exhibitions and career days. The plan aims to enhance collaboration with TVET colleges, technical high schools, and universities to showcase the diverse opportunities available to job seekers to as broad an audience as possible. Tools to facilitate this endeavour will include social media strategies and a revamped NADA website designed for enhanced user-friendliness, with a particular focus on highlighting career opportunities within this environment.

Pantsi advises young individuals aspiring to join the motor industry to carefully consider their intentions and approach their career choice with dedication. He emphasises the importance of making a firm commitment to building a career within the industry.

“Patience is key. Young people who enter the industry should be prepared to invest time in skill development and accumulate valuable training over time. It is crucial to understand that a career in the motor industry is a long-term commitment.”

“Young South Africans should set and pursue long-term goals, recognising that success in this field requires continuous learning and growth. By staying dedicated and maintaining focus on their ambitions, they can position themselves for a fulfilling and successful career in the local motor industry.”

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