High Gear, a significant initiative from the International Youth Foundation (IYF), has been instrumental in advancing the TVET system with modernised automotive engineering curricula, bridging the educational gap with the evolving demands of industry. This initiative, supported by the British High Commission ' Pretoria (BHC), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), has been achieved through vital partnerships with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), the National Association of Automotive and Allied Manufactures (NAACAM) and the Automotive Industry Development Centre, Eastern Cape (AIDC-EC).
At a recent Stakeholder Engagement event, High Gear honoured the commitment of its partners and celebrated the programme's milestones.
Khalil Patel, High Gear's Programme Director, captured the essence of the event: "Today, we not only commemorate our achievements but also lay the groundwork for future growth, reinforcing our partnerships, and supporting the transformation of vocational education in South Africa."
The event featured a keynote address from Mr. James Mogale, Deputy Director: TVET Curriculum Development and Support ' Engineering Studies at DHET. He lauded High Gear for its strategic development of curriculum frameworks that have realigned six industry-critical courses with modern industry standards and global benchmarks. Mr. Mogale envisioned High Gear as more than an educational initiative, but as a movement propelling South Africa towards a future of inclusive growth and skilled prosperity.
The role of NAACAM and AIDC-EC as sustainability partners is more crucial than ever. They are the custodians of the programme's legacy, steering it towards a future where the industry and education are seamlessly integrated.
A NAACAM representative praised the innovative approaches of High Gear, particularly the YakhiFuture online portal, which has significantly strengthened career guidance services for TVET students and improved access to employment opportunities within the automotive sector.
While discussions about the potential incorporation of virtual reality tools into future phases of High Gear were positive, the focus remains on the consolidation of current successes and ensuring the longevity and sustainability of the programme's outcomes.
AIDC-EC, working in concert with NAACAM, has been a pillar of support for the programme, particularly in the facilitation of work-integrated learning placements. Lebalang Molobele, speaking for NAACAM expressed gratitude for their "exceptional work."
Priscilla Fry, AIDC Project Manager in the Eastern Cape, echoed the sentiment, recognising the profound impact the programme has made on students and graduates, and attributing life-changing progress to the initiative brought forth by IYF.
The success of High Gear is deeply rooted in these collaborative partnerships. Looking ahead, High Gear is poised to build upon its accomplishments, extending its network of collaborations under the stewardship of NAACAM and AIDC-EC, and driving forward a resilient and innovative automotive industry for South Africa.