Being an artisan has become a rare commodity in South Africa. Many companies have now resorted to finding workers from abroad.
BASF Coatings Services had been experiencing this shortage of qualified skills in the industry firsthand; working with many of their customers, who complained for various reasons, that they really struggled to source spray painters with full qualifications, relevant experience and a positive personality for the workshop.
To address this challenge head-on, BASF Coatings Services partnered with NF Apprentices, a non-profit organisation that assists the automotive refinishing industry with administering apprenticeship programmes. A major concern for many industry stakeholders is the administration of acquiring and training apprentices.
NF Apprentices assists stakeholders in the automotive refinishing industry with successfully administering apprenticeship programmes whilst meeting their skills and training objectives.
Together, BASF Coatings Services and NF Apprentices developed a pilot project; an apprentice programme, through the BASF Refinish Competence Centre (RCC), that provided eight young people with not only the theoretical and practical spray-painting skills required to qualify, but also taught the participants about topics such as personal financial management, self-awareness, conflict management and emotional intelligence.
Through this pilot project, the apprentices were placed in Glasurit body shops across Gauteng and were mentored by BASF technicians in partnership with NF Apprentices and the body shops.
With all the learners having completed their final trade test, BASF Coatings Services prepared a graduation ceremony to celebrate the passing of their exams and to prepare these young professionals for a future that awaits them within the repair industry.
BASF Coatings Services hosted the graduates, their family members, the NF Apprentice team and all those who supported the graduates on their journey to being young artisanal professionals, at the RCC, where the theoretical and practical training workshops were held. This served as a nostalgic reminder to the graduates of the time spent there, as well as giving those who had never been exposed to the refinish industry, an experience of the environment the graduates work in.
The event was marked with encouraging words from Paul Mandersloot, managing director of BASF Coatings SA, reinforcing the impact of BASF Coatings Services within the industry. Thembi Sithole, a body shop owner who has worked closely with the apprentices, engaged with the graduates about her journey in the automotive industry and gave them some much needed motivation, by reassuring them that she will continue to support the graduates as and when they need it.
Eddie da Silva, owner of Auto Body Specialists and co-founder of NF Apprentices, was happy to describe the benefits he has experienced by having apprentices in his shop. In his view this may seem like a hassle in the beginning, but with proper processes in place, the support of the experienced shop team as well as BASF Paint Technicians at hand, the apprentices have grown rapidly.
Launching a pilot programme like this has been a learning experience for all stakeholders involved. However, they are very proud and grateful for how BASF Coatings Services, NF Apprentices, customers and the technical staff have supported this initiative through mentorship, coaching and actively participating in building the future of our collision repair industry.