Students at technical high schools around South Africa will soon be able to tinker with new, modern engines following the donation of 240 units by Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA) in a deal worth R7,8-million.
The engines are assembled at Ford’s Struandale Engine Plant in Port Elizabeth, which currently operates two engine programmes: the new-generation 2.0 Bi-Turbo and 2.0 Single Turbo engine family, as well as the established 2,2-litre and 3,2-litre Duratorq TDCi units. These engines are produced for the domestic market and export customers around the world, and are used in a variety of models including the Ford Ranger pickup, the Ranger Raptor high-performance off-road pickup, the Everest seven-seater sport utility vehicle (SUV), as well as the European-built Ford Transit.
“Ford Motor Company has been a leading player in the South African automotive industry for more than 96 years, an exceptionally proud legacy built on continued investment and innovation to build segment-defining products, empowering communities through creating job opportunities, and striving to improve the world around us for a brighter future,” says Neale Hill, MD of FMCSA.
“Corporate social responsibility is more than simply a box that we tick at Ford. It’s an integral part of the way we do business, and this is embodied in our inspiring new brand campaign, Ford For South Africa, which endorses our unwavering dedication to the country,” Hill adds. “Being a responsible corporate citizen means playing an active role in addressing the many challenges South Africans face, and arguably the biggest challenge we are dealing with currently is the high level of unemployment, particularly amongst our youth.
“To address this, we dedicate extensive resources, expertise and manpower to creating opportunities to educate and empower our future entrepreneurs, engineers, community leaders and business pioneers, with a specific focus on uplifting the previously disadvantaged members of our community, and women in particular.
“It is with this in mind that I am delighted to announce that we are donating 240 engines produced at our Struandale Engine Plant. We have partnered with the Department of Basic Education to supply these engines to technical high schools across the country, with the aim of promoting technical skills development and training in the automotive sphere,” Hill explains.
“This will give learners the opportunity to understand and appreciate the inner workings of modern engines, and will help ignite greater interest in the field of automotive manufacturing and technology. We trust it will also lead to an even greater focus on the diverse range of engineering disciplines to address the shortage of these essential skills in South Africa.”
The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, said: “As Government, our capacity is constrained due to the prevailing low economic growth and falling tax revenues. Like never before, we need partners to augment not just the technical aspect of our work, but also to become part of the thinking pack. We need new ideas.”
Minister Motshekga said the partnership between the Department of Basic Education and Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa would play a pivotal role in boosting efforts to stimulate the local economy, and address the technical skills shortage the country is facing.
“The Department of Basic Education is delighted to receive the 240 engines from Ford to support the skills revolution in our country,” Motshekga added. “The engines we are receiving today will power the future, and unleash our learners’ new potential in ways unimaginable before. I am glad that Ford has joined our efforts to take us forward, and I am certain that this initiative will contribute in growing our learners’ skills at the school level and beyond.”
Ford currently contributes more than 1% to South Africa’s total gross domestic product (GDP), employs approximately 4 300 people and supports some 50 000 jobs in the total value chain.
“Ford Motor Company plays a key role in the local economy through continued investment in our manufacturing operations,” says Dhiren Vanmali, Ford Motor Company’s Executive director, Government Affairs for Africa. “Between 2009 and 2018 alone, we invested more than R11-billion in our local plants, and we continue working towards further expanding our footprint globally.
“Last year we were delighted to officially launch a ground-breaking public-private partnership with national, provincial and local government in the establishment of the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (SEZ), adjacent to the Silverton Assembly Plant,” Vanmali adds. “This automotive supplier park will not only help unleash future expansion possibilities for our local operations, but will create thousands of additional jobs within the total value chain, providing a significant economic boost for the local communities, the City of Tshwane, the Gauteng Province and, of course, South Africa as a whole.”
Ford has various Learnership, Apprenticeship and Experiential Trainee programmes in place to drive skills development across various fields. Over the past five years at the Silverton Assembly Plant, Ford assisted 165 learners gain their NQF qualifications in Automotive Repairs and Maintenance, along with 220 in Autotronics, 765 in Business Administration, 34 in Fitting, 187 in Mechatronics. Additionally, over 1 800 learners attained their National Certificate in Automotive Manufacturing and Assembly.
More than 120 apprentices have completed their training as electricians, fitters, millwrights and motor mechanics, and almost 1 500 experiential trainees have completed programmes at Ford in administration and the wide range of engineering fields, including electrical, industrial, logistics, mechanical and mechatronics. More than 660 of these learners have subsequently been employed at Ford, with the remainder entering the broader industry with highly marketable and high-demand qualifications and skills sets that give them a solid footing for embarking on a future career.