The Imperial Group has increased their focus on trade training into the area of collision repair. Their new facility houses a fully set up and comissioned spray booth and preparation area, along with the latest welding technologies and body repair equipment. Automotive Refinisher magazine took time out to see how the group intends to maximise their apprenticeship training going forward.

The Wadeville Academy of the Imperial Technical Training Academy (ITTA), is the only one of their three academies that offers autobody repair and spray painting training. It has been in existence since 2012, but Imperial Technical Training Academy as a brand started back in 2009. The ITTA is home to seven trades namely motor and diesel mechanic, motorcycle and scooter, forklift, auto electrical, and their newest addition being that of autobody repair and spray painting.

They currently have 29 spray painters and 30 autobody repair apprentices in training. This number is likely to grow, as their panel and paint side of the academy has only been open since April 2015.

The training facility is 4 000m2 in size and boasts the most up to date equipment supplied by Aer-o-cure and Hurricane Equipment. On the paint side of things, Glasurit is their main supplier, but they are also in discussions with other paint companies so as to expose their learners to a variety of products.

“We had a whole panel shop with all its contents donated to us from Imperial Auto body. BASF sponsored the mixing rooms and the rest has been investment from Imperial,” said Wesley Huntly, regional training manager.

“So how does the training work? First the dealer would need to enter into a contract with the learner to start his/her apprenticeship. Once this is established our admin department at our training academy will then liaise with Merseta to follow up on contract registration and provide the workshop with the learners training schedule.”

The learner would come to the training academy for one week’s training that would comprise both theory and practical elements. They would then return back to their workplace for four weeks. This is where they complete tasks that are then recorded into the learner’s logbook as evidence of on-the-job training and then they would return back to the academy for another week of training. This continues until the learner has completed all the required modules for their level.

Once all the modules are complete they come back for a revision week in which we prepare them for their level test.

“The potential apprentices would have to meet certain entrance criteria namely that of Maths, Science and English at 50% at Gr 12 level. Even though the requirement is only Gr 9, we are seeing how technical and sophisticated the vehicles are becoming and we feel that candidates will need a better foundation to cope in the long run.

“Once the learner meets the relevant entrance criteria we put them through a series of tests, which shows their aptitude for their trade as well as a basic numeracy and literacy tests. The results from these indicators, along with an interview, would tell us if the learner would be suited for an apprenticeship,” Huntly continued.

“Normally the learners that enter an apprenticeship are already in employment, but once their apprenticeship is completed and they wish to move on they would be able to distribute their CV’s to their clients and maybe assist in future employment if needs be.

Courses for spray painting currently are as follows, with more in development:

* Polishing.
* Stone chip and colour matching.
* Preparation for painting.

Courses for autobody repair are as follows, with more in development:

* Paintless dent removal.
* Strip and Assemble.

NB: Please note that these courses are still awaiting accreditation from merSeta.

There are seven trainers and two test officers at their Wadeville branch while Germiston has nine trainers. The Cape Town office has five trainers and a test officer.

“Once these courses and our intake has taken off, we would like to open up a part-time apprenticeship course whereby the learner attends class after hours and on weekends in order to obtain their qualification. We plan to roll this out across all seven trades that we offer training for. We are also in the throws of accrediting shorter courses for small area repair and hail damage, so watch this space.” concluded Huntly.

The Imperial Technical Training Academy takes care of all the administration matters relating to apprenticeship from end to end, they have world-class facilities with highly skilled trainers and above all they are committed to helping industry bridge the skills gap with in the various trades.

So what are you waiting for? Call them on +27 (0)11 255 4240 or email: