Gender inequality issues have dominated South Africa’s workplace history, especially in technical fields with the automotive industry being a male-dominated environment. As a result, women are not equally represented within automotive technician occupations, particularly in diesel-powered heavy trucks.
A main factor contributing to the rarity of female diesel auto technicians is due to a lack of role models from the past. However, the percentage of women in the motor industry has been steadily increasing in recent years. Race and gender are important indicators of transformation in the sector.
merSETA’s sectors are male dominated with 76.4% males and 23.6% females representing the gender profile of the sector. (merSETA Sector Skills Plan Update 2019/2020). The image of trucks does not attract female diesel technicians as, with trucks being seen as smokey, heavy and ‘dirty’, very few – if any – women are found in this segment.
Modern, technically advanced Isuzu trucks are far away from the old image of ‘smokey, heavy and dirty’. Today’s Isuzu trucks are powered by turbocharged, intercooled, electronically managed engines matching Euro 2 clean exhaust systems. Automated shift transmissions, ABS braking systems with EBD all add into a package that can easily be serviced by a well-trained lady technician – diagnostic ability is the key to servicing modern trucking.
The merSETA Sector data also shows that women tend to be less represented above NQF 4. However, from the data it appears that women who do progress beyond NQF 4 predominately attain NQF 6 (Table 7 – merSETA report – see link below). Overall, a higher proportion of women (62%) reach NQF 4 as opposed men (47%).
All this is changing. Key Trucks Pinetown has recently unlocked opportunities for female truck technicians with the first intake of its first two female truck apprentices. This is in line with the Key Group being fully committed to gender equality in its workplace and the growth and development of young South Africans.
An apprenticeship lasts four years but Key Truck’s two new lady technicians can qualify in two years depending how quickly they learn. This will provide these women with training and educational opportunities that will enable their future progression.
Peter de Villiers, Director Aftersales, says: “Our aim is to ensure that every employee, regardless of gender, has an opportunity to develop within the company. Every aspect of our business promotes an equal opportunity-enabling environment within the workplace and in this context we welcome Ngcedolwethu Delisile Ngubane (24) and Thabisile Promise Dlamini (22) aboard the service teams supporting our customers at Key Trucks Pinetown.”