BMW Group South Africa (BMW SA) on Friday cut the ribbon on a new, R73-million training academy at its Rosslyn plant, in Pretoria.
The 6 000 m2 facility can host 300 apprentices a year.
BMW SA opened its first training centre at Rosslyn in 1978. Since then, close to 2 000 training academy graduates have secured employment at the plant.
“Global automotive production stands on the brink of momentous change with an increased focus on digitalisation and electrification,” commented BMW SA and Sub-Saharan Africa CEO Tim Abbott at the opening ceremony.
“The workforce of tomorrow needs to keep pace with these trends. At BMW Group South Africa we are investing in the skills of the future.”
The newly built training facility focuses on theoretical knowledge and practical application.
This includes training BMW staff on the advanced technologies that will be used in the production of the new BMW X3 model, set to kick off at Rosslyn in April. Around 96% of X3 production will be exported to markets such as Germany, France, Spain and the UK.
Modern manufacturing skills such as robot programming, advanced computer numerical control simulation and training on electric vehicles have all been included at the new academy.
An accredited trade test centre has been incorporated into the building, allowing learners to achieve their trade qualification in-house. This functionality will also be extended to the public in the course of 2018.
Learnerships on offer to external candidates are mechatronics and autotronics. Trades to study include millwright, electrician, fitter, fitter and turner, motor mechanic, spray painter and panel beater.
“Over the years, our training facility has certainly supplied a high percentage of the skilled workforce in the motor industry, including the extended value chain of suppliers and dealerships,” noted BMW SA human resources director Charissa Hector.
“We are also proud of the career growth trajectory of learners that have been absorbed into our own workforce, including the recent appointment of a training academy graduate [Nthabiseng Byrnes] as the first black female production manager in our assembly plant.”
The R73-million training centre investment is the latest in a round of funding from the German car maker in its South African operation.
This includes R6-billion for the production of the new BMW X3 at the plant; an additional R160-million to enhance production linespeed and to raise maximum production capacity by 10% to 76 000 units; R400-million for the expansion of the company’s Midrand campus and a new distribution centre; a 100% increase in the number of jobs in the information technology function from 400 to around 800; and a R2.2-billion investment from BMW dealers in the dealer network.