The Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) Trade Test Centre recently launched to the community of East London and surrounding areas. It is the first decentralised manufacturing, engineering and related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA)-accredited facility of its kind in the region.
MBSA have invested in excess of R3 million into the establishment of the centre, with further investment planned in 2012 for equipment upgrades.
Vice-president for human resources at MBSA, Johann Evertse, said that the centre will save local businesses the expense of sending their trade candidates to other areas for testing. "The centre is a resource for practical advice and support, and provides a testing service for designated formal artisan qualifications", he added.
The trade test facility augments the capabilities of the MBSA Technical Training Centre, which also celebrated 30 years' existence in 2011, when the ground-breaking for the Trade Test Centre took place.
When racial segregation was strictly enforced
Created in 1981 during a time when racial segregation was strictly enforced by the government, MBSA made the decision, based on principle and a commitment to equal education for all, that the Technical Training Centre would be a multiracial facility.
"MBSA can proudly claim a significant contribution not only to creating opportunities for people who would otherwise not have received technical training, but also to alleviating the shortage of qualified artisans in the Eastern Cape," Evertse said. "It was this courage and foresight of leadership at the time that still underpins the value system that MBSA practises today. Subsequently the centre has evolved into a facilitator for wider employment in the Border Kei region, and provides much needed training relief in this area."
Training and multi-skilling
More than 9000 people have received training at the centre in its 30-year history, including more than 2000 apprentices. In addition, multi-skilling of more than 4000 people and managerial training for 600 people has taken place.
The testing centre currently accommodates millwright and automotive electrician trades and will in future also incorporate electricians. The first trade test took place in February, 2012, with the first successful candidate hailing from Queenstown.
The training centre has increased its instructor complement to cater for the trade testing and, as a result, can accommodate approximately 100 full-time trainees per annum.
Privacy and integrity of the testing process is ensured through the design of the testing areas, and normal apprentice training does not take place at the facility when trade tests are being undertaken.