Ford is broadening its horizon for transformation initiatives and involvement in the economic empowerment initiatives of its dealer network in 2020.
Esther Buthelezi the Transformation manager at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa (FMCSA), states that the recent economic realities confronting the country to make transformation more important and urgent than ever before.
"This unprecedented time as a company and a country has given us pause," she says. "Markets will remain under pressure into the foreseeable future, and competition will increase dramatically. This makes it the ideal time to implement measures that can help to promote better business."
Buthelezi is currently working alongside multiple teams that are responsible for the dealer network, acquisition of suppliers and Human Resources as to further drive Ford’s South African transformation plans. Including the design, evaluation and implementation of the thoughtful transformation plan that achieves FMCSA’s business objectives, while also representing the organisation’s interests with industry groups across South Africa. It also includes FMCSA’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) initiatives.
One of the key focus for the company to progress is the transformation among its dealers and component supplier network. The industry-wide transformation fund administered by the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers (NAAMSA) delivers a vital platform for manufacturers to facilitate transformation something which Ford is a strong supporter of. This fund will then be operational from 2021 and will also use its R6 billion in industry contributions to expand industry transformation on all levels.
"We are very excited to partner with the rest of the industry in creating this large transformation fund. With funds from the AITF, we will help develop black entrepreneurs, expand the number of black-owned dealers and component manufacturers, and create opportunities for young managers and technical staff at all levels of the automotive industry," Buthelezi states. "Ultimately, we foresee a rapid acceleration of our transformation initiatives when business returns to normal, and we trust that it will help grow the industry and ensure our sustainability in the years ahead."
Other than the noteworthy transformation of its plants and product line-up, Ford has also made swift progress on the transformation of their workforce. FMCSA is vigorously empowering employment opportunities for the youth through its pioneering and extensive Skills Development and Learnership programmes, since 2014 they have spent more than R250-million spent on training initiatives. "All original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the South African automotive segment are required to be Level 4 B-BBEE contributors by 2021. We are continuously working towards that goal through various initiatives," Buthelezi explains. Ford has lately got on board for a landmark public-private partnership with national, provincial and local government to promote the creation of the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone (SEZ). "The Tshwane Automotive SEZ is an automotive component supplier industrial park that will play an important role in bolstering extra investment and job creation in the local economy, and will aid businesses to become more competitive on a global scale," Buthelezi says.
"It is only by government, industry and communities working hand-in-hand that we can create opportunities and fulfil our true potential. Initiatives such as the Tshwane Automotive SEZ will help empower local suppliers to develop as an integral part of the automotive industry, which currently accounts for 6.4 per cent of South Africa’s GDP and 27.6 per cent of the country’s manufacturing output. Ford alone contributes over 1 per cent to the GDP, and we are aiming to grow the business further."
For the upcoming phase of Ford’s business transformation, they are funding human capital in its dealer and supplier networks. This consist of working with key decision-makers on succession planning for senior executives, and encourage and uplift personnel on all levels of the business. "To ensure that our transformation plans are successful, we must identify individuals in all aspects of a dealer’s business - finance, sales, technical support and management - and support their professional development to ensure that there is a strong pipeline of future talent to help transform the dealer network," says Buthelezi.
This back-to-back focus on training and development includes the Ford academy that was established in 1998 as a sales academy for new vehicle sales staff but grown to cover most customer-facing designation in the dealership, since. This programme is equal to an NQF Level 6 but is a non-credit bearing certificate. "In the last year, we changed our bursary policy to include coverage of all types of training. As long as the learning institution is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training, the full cost of tuition and study material is covered. The application rate has increased significantly from previous years to over 300 dependent applications in the first semester of this year. We have already paid out approximately R6.5 million this year," explains Buthelezi.
Ford has also united with the Youth Employment Service (YES) that permits it to deliver temporary employment and training for young unemployed graduates. To date, Ford has accepted 205 young people into its YES programme, with the goal of absorbing many of these brilliant young people into their own business as well as that of its dealers and suppliers.
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