Home FleetWatch 2019 Ladies – start your engines!

Ladies – start your engines!

Ready for great things are from left: Keith Shai (32), Granny Leolo (33), Wesley Naledzani (25), Fikile Mavundla (34), Eugenia Manana (33) and Patrick Sinthumule (27).
Ready for great things are from left: Keith Shai (32), Granny Leolo (33), Wesley Naledzani (25), Fikile Mavundla (34), Eugenia Manana (33) and Patrick Sinthumule (27).

With over 50% of the youth in South Africa currently facing unemployment, Isuzu is turning the tide by setting an industry benchmark in the automotive industry. Isuzu Motors South Africa is the first OEM to invest in the development of professional commercial drivers –from scratch – with a particular focus on unlocking this career path for South African youth and women.

Nicci Scott, founder of Commercial Transport Academy CTA, says the physique of the typical truck driver is changing – with more and more opportunities becoming available for a diverse group of commercial drivers through investments by OEMs such as Isuzu.

Scott reckons that the stereotypical image of a truck driver being a burly man is changing with women, mothers and young men moving in behind the steering wheel of commercial vehicles across the highways and byways of South Africa. In fact, Isuzu was the first OEM to embrace female truck drivers with its 2016 learnership programme.

“The Isuzu truck range is perfect for women drivers. Of the 2016 intake of five women who graduated, two stayed in the industry. Safety is still a concern for women drivers – particularly long-haul driving but we are slowly preparing the industry for skilled women truck drivers,” says Scott.

In 2017 only men participated in the Isuzu learnership and in 2018 a mixed group of men and women were included in the programme. All ten learners of the 2018 intake completed both a theoretical and practical component of their learnership. The youngest learner from the 2018 intake to graduate is only 22 years old – and the oldest is 35 years old. The mixed group of learners consist of four women and six men.

Wesley Naledzani gives a thumbs up as he gets behind the wheel as a happy truck driver.

“The learners come from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and were vetted thoroughly to ensure they have an interest in the industry. Apart from the three-month theoretical component, they also completed an eight-month workplace practical component. They understand the product and have dealt with the very latest technology in South Africa – making them highly employable. The fact that the learnership is backed by the OEM is key,” says Scott.

While CTA provided the vetting, implementation, mentoring and monitoring of the learnership on behalf of Isuzu, the learners gained their practical experience at OneLogix Trucklogix – an auto logistics company for commercial vehicles in South Africa – including Isuzu trucks. The learners would collect Isuzu trucks in Port Elizabeth and drive and deliver these trucks to the dealer network across the country.

Isuzu Motors South Africa Corporate Communications Manager, Gishma Johnson says skills development is an important and sustainable solution to combat the issue of unemployment in the country.

The youngest graduate, Samkelo Hadebe (22), described the learnership as a life-changing experience: “Unemployed and searching for an opportunity, I became aware of the learnership from a friend. Before the learnership began, I had no idea how demanding it was to drive commercial vehicles. I have travelled throughout our beautiful country delivering new trucks, which has been a dream come true. When we started the learnership, four women entered the programme, I was sure they would not succeed but they did – and I am proud to work alongside them,” says Hadebe.  

Granny Leolo (33) in the driver’s seat.
Granny Leolo (33) in the driver’s seat.

The learnership is NQF Level 3 accredited and the curriculum covers such diverse content such as driving and operating a vehicle, health and safety training. The curriculum is moderated internally and externally – and benchmarked internationally.

“After studying cosmetology, I embarked on the learnership that was anything but feminine. I never saw myself as being a truck driver but here I am representing all the female commercial drivers out there – and I love it. I have a new respect for truck drivers and exposure to this industry has opened my eyes to the opportunities available to me. Through persistence, commitment and new learnings, I hope to start my own business in the transport and logistics sector,” says another youth graduate, Mbalenhle Moloena (24).

The real value of a learnership is securing employment for the qualified learners. Anyone interested in interviewing these young, enthusiastic commercial drivers can contact Nicci Scott at 087-1100914/5 (office) or nicci@c-t-a.co.za

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