In honour of Youth Day, the Motor Industry Workshops Association of SA (MIWA) Eastern Cape hosted their second Motor Mech show at Port Rex Technical High School, where mechanically inclined pupils walked away with prizes worth R7,000.
In 2022, MIWA East London hosted their first show at Port Rex and following the format from last year, the show featured competitions for local pupils, mechanical demonstrations, and automotive workshops.
The show also hosted automotive role players from around the country including Bell Mining and Construction SA who were scouting out potential pupils for apprenticeships.
The junior motor mech competition is fast becoming an acclaimed event with pupils from technical high schools in East London and the surrounds hosting trials ahead of the show to prepare participating pupils.
The competition requires pupils to demonstrate various workshop competencies relating to; identifying and naming engine components, removing and resetting spark plugs, repairing lights and performing a valve setting clearance.
The final task, performed by the last three Port Rex pupils, Okuhle Matota, Amila Ngalo and Alfred Kabeya required participants to solve a set of problems with a model vehicle.
Matota, the only grade 11 pupil in the top three completed the final challenge in under seven minutes. Port Rex educator, Jason Bekker said Matota is an attentive pupil who had committed to practicing for the motor mech show months in advance.
Bekker said: “Okuhle did a fantastic job, considering that he was the youngest competitor in the top three.
“He was very calm and he paid attention to instructions.
“He was one of my pupils who put their mind to the mechanical theory throughout the year. When he was taught, he came back after hours to practice and that repetition allowed the concepts to stick.
“In general, the competition showed us that the pupils understand their training however more focus will need to be given to the electrical side as they struggled in this area.”
For his efforts, Matota won a toolbox valued at R7,000 courtesy of MIWA and its collaborators including Motor Industry Support Staff (MISA) and MERSETA. Ngalo and Kabeya also won prizes.
Bekker said that efforts to intensify recruitment for technical high schools is needed at primary school level so that pupils with a technical capacity can be identified early.
He said: “If there was a way to scout pupils from primary schools who demonstrate skills with art, or building with their hands, this would help.
“There will always be a need for employees with skills to repair vehicles and we need to start building on the local availability of skilled individuals in this field.”
Vice-chair of MIWA Eastern Cape, Teresa Spenser-Higgs said: “Our industry is declining at a rate of 10% a year.
“The skilled individuals are emigrating, and older mechanics are nearing retirement meaning we are dangerously close to a shortage.
“We hosted this show to rekindle an interest in mechanics among the youth. This year we had two schools enter so we are very excited to see the show growing.”