Nissan and the Gauteng Department of Economic Development launched the creation training academy at Nissan’s Rosslyn Plant in Pretoria yesterday in a move described by the parties as re-affirming their commitment to skills development within the South African automotive industry.
The Gauteng Automotive Training Academy is a public / private partnership with the Economic Development Department’s Automotive Industry Development Centre (AIDC) and will be the first government owned automotive training academy in the country.
Under the terms of the partnership, Nissan SA made land and buildings available for the facility and will also bear the cost of utilities such as water and electricity. On completion, scheduled for May 2013, the AIDC will become operational custodians of the institution, supported by the Automotive Supplier Park Company (ASP).
Speaking at Nissan’s Rosslyn Plant where the new academy is based, Nissan SA managing director Mike Whitfield said that the company was proud to be part of this milestone occasion.
Addressing Nkosiphendule Kolisile, the Member of Executive Committee for Gauteng Department of Economic Development , Mike said: “Skills development is vital to the sustainability of the South African auto industry and our involvement in the Automotive Training Academy demonstrates our commitment to the industry’s long-term survival,
“There is a lack of specialist skills in the sector and today’s ceremony sends a strong message to government that Nissan wants to play a pivotal role – alongside other key institutions – in building capacity and capability within the industry,” Whitfield added.
The Training Academy will accommodate approximately 1,000 learners annually on a variety of training programmes, aimed at addressing both the current skills shortage as well as the broadening of the technical skills base.
MEC Kolisile said that the project demonstrates the provincial government’s commitment to growth in the automotive industry. “The provincial government has maintained a focus on the automotive manufacturing sector and worked consistently to provide an environment that is conducive to growing its competitiveness”.
A key training component will be a production simulator, comprising vehicle assembly, body shop and paint shop, initially for improving the skills of Nissan’s plant employees who will be involved in the production of a new 1–ton Nissan pickup.
Today’s ceremony follows Nissan’s recent announcement that it is to invest more than one billion Rand at its Rosslyn plant, mainly to support production of the new 1-ton pickup. The plant has been identified as a key Nissan manufacturing facility plant for new projects, especially for Africa.
The investment – comprising plant infrastructure expansion and the creation of a significant number of new jobs both at Nissan South Africa and within the automotive value chain – is in support of the company’s global business plan, Nissan Power 88, which targets 8% of global market share and 8% corporate operating profit by 2016.
The business plan also runs parallel with South Africa’s Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP), which is encouraging the automotive industry to ramp up total South African vehicle production to 1.2 million units per annum by 2020.
With vehicle sales on the continent contributing more than 90, 000 units to Nissan’s global 2011 vehicle sales, Africa is a key strategic region.
In addition to the locally produced vehicles, a new B-segment passenger vehicle will be launched in South Africa in the near future. Talks are also ongoing with key South African stakeholders on the rollout of the Nissan LEAF, which has been successfully launched in Europe, the USA and Japan.