The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (NAAMSA) is finalising its skills gap study, which uncovers the need for new skills in SA’s smart mobility sector.
Preliminary data shows new autonomous driving occupations − such as autonomous vehicle engineers, simulation specialists and safety analysts − are emerging.
This was the word from Mikel Mabasa, CEO of NAAMSA, speaking to ITWeb last week on the side-lines of the SA Auto Week event, organised by NAAMSA, also known as the Automotive Business Council.
According to Mabasa, SA’s transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to new energy vehicles (NEVs) will also result in new employment opportunities being created, and the reskilling and up-skilling of some of the workforce in SA’s automotive industry.
However, the lack of skills is one of the key barriers to this transformation and the planned local manufacturing of NEVs.
NAAMSA embarked on a comprehensive skills study 12 months ago, to determine SA’s current e-mobility skills landscape and establish what skills will be required to adequately prepare for the transition.
Early findings show increased demand for software engineers, data analysts and cyber security professionals, to develop and maintain advanced digital technologies and intelligence for the smart mobility sector.
The report also highlights the growth of production occupations, including specialised skills in electric powertrain systems, battery technology and charging infrastructure, as well as growing demand for occupations such as electric vehicle technicians and battery engineers.
“Now that we know exactly what skills and occupations we have and what skills of the future we are lacking, we have articulated this in the report and have also established what type of skills are being phased out and will become totally irrelevant in the next five years.
“We have mapped it out and highlighted how the industry can create new opportunities to upskill and reskill employees for positions of the future,” said Mabasa.
The finalised report is expected to be released before the end of the year.
Government has over the years stressed the importance of providing more support to the industry, particularly components manufacturing in the context of NEVs.
The component sector, as part of the wider automotive sector, is a mainstay of SA’s industrial economy – so far contributing 4.9% to SA’s gross domestic product this year.
The NAAMSA preliminary study also shows there will be increased demand for workers with expertise in sustainable manufacturing practices, environmental engineering and renewable energy; green logistics and supply chain management.
Mabasa noted NAAMSA has identified five key roadmaps – highlighted in the study – which will detail how the ongoing skills shortage can best be addressed. Some of these interventions include closely aligning the automotive engineering syllabus with MERSETA programmes.
The MERSETA encompasses manufacturing, engineering and related services.
“We are looking at the introduction of a BA degree in automotive engineering. We are also introducing other qualifications on the same level, so that we're able to train more people into our landscape.
“Furthermore, we want to establish partnerships with several automotive schools − for instance, the BMW and Toyota automotive schools − to expand the number of students they train and ensure they are trained for the industry rather than for a specific company,” he concluded.