By Nick Hodgson (with extracts from Porsche SA media release)
Social responsibility and motoring journalism seldom cross paths it has to be said. Yet sat in the airport on my way back to Johannesburg I can’t help but feel that Porsche and the VW Group are onto something with the launch of the training centre in Cape Town. After the glitz and glam of the previous evening’s festivities and everything has settled back to reality, let’s take a closer look at what Porsche has gotten themselves involved with.
First off the project has been organised in association with the Don Bosco Salesian Institute Youth Projects (SIYP) in Cape Town and the local Porsche importer in South Africa, LSM Distributors (Pty.) Ltd. Impressive credentials for sure and the new training centre in Greenpoint, Cape Town will certainly have its work cut out considering the goal is to train a total of 75 men and women from disadvantaged backgrounds over three academic years with each class broken up into approximately 25 students per year. These students will be trained as service mechatronics engineers with the plan being for them to end up working within the Volkswagen Group by the end of the training. Of course if you do some basic reading between the lines we can logically assume graduates won’t be working on the 919 hybrid hypercar day one out of training, but the fact remains that the opportunities presented to those students are abundant.
What really hits home is when you see this all coming together in the flesh. Presented to us were the eight women and sixteen men who have the honour of making up the first class in the programme. Obviously you need facilities though and again the programme has come fully equipped with two seminar rooms and a training workshop, practice cars included. In fact on launch they had a brand spanking new 718 Boxster parked on the lift ready and waiting for the first class to get their hands on it.
The programme itself has been designed by Porsche and its After Sales experts who have also been tasked with training the trainers of the Porsche Training and Recruitment Centre South Africa under the umbrella of the worldwide After Sales qualification initiative PAVE (Porsche After Sales Vocational Education). What really came across during the whole presentation is the commitment that Porsche has to bettering South African lives through this programme and providing opportunities where none or very few existed before. As Uwe Hück, Chair of the Porsche Group Works Council said: “Education is something that concerns us all and must not be a privilege.”
Strong words for sure but Porsche has clearly put its money where its mouth is, especially when considering that from a business perspective, rewards from this investment can only begin to be measured two years down the line. Regardless though it cannot be denied that this is a wonderful initiative and all involved should be commended for their efforts so far as is there really any better way to give back to the community than empowering the future generations?
Routes into the Porsche Training and Recruitment Centre South Africa:
Young people who are interested can apply for the training programme. Applicants must come from disadvantaged backgrounds. There are three different routes onto the training programme, depending on the applicant’s qualifications: If an applicant is already sufficiently qualified for vocational training, he or she can access the two-year car service mechatronics engineer training programme directly. Any applicants who do not possess the required qualifications can complete a six to eight-week life skills training course at the Don Bosco Salesian Institute Youth Projects (SIYP). If an applicant is lacking basic skills, he or she will be given the opportunity to complete a year of training to prepare them for the working world. This option will be available to up to 50 people and will enable them to make clear leaps in their development, regardless of whether they ultimately reach the level required to undertake the training programme or not. The Cape Town training project is modelled on one at the Porsche Training and Recruitment Center Asia in Manila, which has been training young Filipinos as service mechatronics engineers since 2008 – again in cooperation with Don Bosco and the local Porsche importer.