Mechanics not just about grease

Are you a pupil who enjoys fiddling with your dad’s car but associates being a mechanic with grease monkeys and a low income? Then the Automobile Association’s courses for school-leavers and apprenticeships could be for you.

From February next year the Automobile Association’s technical college will offer a school-leavers’ programme to “help learners decide if they want to join the industry or not”, said Lion du Plessis, the association’s marketing manager. The programme will also enhance a learners’ chances of being recruited as an apprentice in the motor industry.

The 20-day course exposes learners who are thinking about entering the motor industry to the realities of being a mechanic. “For the first couple of years as an apprentice you will be doing jobs like changing a car’s oil and getting your hands dirty, but being a mechanic is more than that,” Du Plessis said.

“A lot of a mechanic’s work is done on computers and if you become a specialist in the field you can earn a lot of money,” he said. “After completion of the programme, the Automobile Association will market suitable learners to its clients—garage workshops like Sandown Motors [in Johannesburg]—to be employed as apprentices.”

What you get
The programme costs R8500 and includes a psychometric assessment, a feedback report and a certificate.

Any learner who is at least 16 years old can apply for the programme “but employers are more likely to hire school-leavers with a matric pass in maths and science”, Du Plessis said.

The technical college is a private further education and training institution that offers practical technical exposure and theoretical knowledge to potential employees in the motor industry. The college has been offering apprenticeship training for employees in the motor industry since 2006.

The two- to four-year training takes someone from a “know-nothing” background about the repair and maintenance of a vehicle to a qualified artisan with a nationally recognised trade certificate, said Werner Wandrey, national technical training manager at the college.

More information can be found on the association’s website,, under the technical services and technical college subsections.“A lot of a mechanic’s work is done on computers and if you become a specialist in the field you can earn a lot of money”

Victoria John

Victoria John

Victoria studied journalism, specialising in photojournalism, at Rhodes University from 2004 to 2007. After traveling around the US and a brief stint in the UK she did a year's internship at The Independent on Saturday in Durban. She then worked as a reporter for the South African Press Association for a year before joining the Mail & Guardian as an education reporter in August 2011. Read more from Victoria John

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