Volvo Trucks South Africa welcomed 36 new technical apprentices this year to address the ongoing skills shortage in the local transport industry. Notably, four of the apprentices are female, a number the company wishes to increase considerably in the future.
“In order to continuously move the needle on diversity and inclusion, we provide employees and, in this case, apprentices, the chance to master inclusive skills,” says Waldemar Christensen, MD of Volvo Trucks South Africa. “We work hard to combat unconscious bias impacts and we subsequently implement strategies to increase our diversity, to truly reflect the diverse world we operate in.”
One of the apprentices, Surprise Dimakatso, originally hails from Limpopo, and she says that she discovered her passion for all things mechanical when she was still a young girl.
“I started working on cars when I was just 11 years old, and my passion grew from there. Being a diesel technician takes specialised skill and talent, and this apprenticeship allows me the opportunity to follow my dreams,” explains Dimakatso. “I also wanted to show other women that you can achieve anything you put your mind to. I want to be a beacon of hope and prove that the I am limitless.”
Another apprentice, Cecilia Dipuo, looks forward to putting her skills into practice. “During the apprenticeship programme I want to learn and experience as much as I can, and in the process build a sustainable career in the industry,” says Dipuo. “I am proud to be working and learning here at Volvo Trucks. It is a dream come true.”
During the selection process, Volvo Trucks worked closely with technical colleges across South Africa to ensure it reached candidates with the right skills sets and passion for what they do.
Volvo Trucks has a well-planned curriculum that takes technicians on a journey from the basics, to becoming a component repair specialist or a specialist diagnostic repair technician. The journey is supported by a range of online and practical training courses, as well as experiential training at Volvo Trucks’ local dealerships. It also includes training on all of Volvo Trucks’ latest technologies and innovations.
During the formal sessions, the apprentices undergo theoretical, practical, and level exam preparation training. This is combined with hands-on practical training at their ‘home’ dealership to hone their newly acquired skills. This all builds up to the final hurdle, which is the trade test that will result in the apprentice becoming a fully-fledged diesel technician.
“Aftermarket forms the backbone of our customers’ success. They rely on us to service, repair and to thereby extend their competitive advantage over other operators,” says Christensen.
“A qualified technician, offering a professional service with original OEM parts to our customers, will reduce downtime significantly, thereby making our customers more successful and keep them operating optimally.”