How e-learning is benefiting the automotive industry in a developing country like South Africa.


While challenges remain in democratising education in South Africa, e-learning is playing a significant role in bridging the divide. By way of example, Vodacom’s e-school has accumulated 1.4-million users since its launch in 2014. This portal enables learners to access curriculum content from mobile devices at no cost. Similarly, more companies are turning to e-learning to skill and upskill employees.

This is also true of the country’s automotive sector, which comprises workers from many different backgrounds and cultures. According to UNESCO, education in one’s mother tongue improves the quality of learning as well as overall outcomes. Modern learning management systems (LMS) take this into account.

“As we all know, South Africa has multiple official languages,” says Michael Hanly, MD of learning solutions provider New Leaf Technologies. “What is so impressive about today’s systems is that they can offer training content in different languages, catering to the diverse linguistic needs of learners to help them improve their understanding of the course material.”

E-learning also gives rise to greater levels of digital adoption and literacy, skills that the country’s motoring sector simply cannot do without. There are numerous other benefits as well. South Africa’s business and manufacturing environment is not always easy, particularly with load-shedding constantly eating into production time and costing the automotive sector billions of rand.

The economic climate is such that not only the vehicle manufacturers but their workers have to look to save money wherever they can. Traditional classroom-based training can be pricey when travel expenses, venue rentals and accommodation are taken into consideration. E-learning removes these costs, freeing up money that can be used in other parts of the business.

“Obviously the South African motor industry has its own unique challenges, and it’s no secret that these are numerous,” Hanly says. “But e-learning can be tailored to address those challenges. It is also a highly flexible form of learning which allows employees to learn at their own pace and schedule and when operations are affected by load-shedding and other external factors.”

What is important to remember, he adds, is that the big car companies rely heavily on smaller homegrown suppliers to deliver quality products. This means that component manufacturers, for example, also need to be kept abreast of the latest technological advancements and legislation governing the industry. South Africa’s automotive sector has held its own amid difficult conditions, and that is as much the doing of SMEs as it is the effectiveness of the global brand operating in the country.

Providing aspiring entrepreneurs with access to industry-relevant training is another way in which e-learning is aiding the auto space. Small business is given the shot in the arm it needs to continue supplying the manufacturers.

“One of South Africa’s major goals is to empower its people, and digital learning has a proven track record in this regard,” Hanly says. “E-learning empowers learners to be in control of their educational journey. A certain degree of pride and sense of ownership results as workers play a more active role in their own professional development.

“For the manufacturer, this also results in a happier and more productive workforce. That is crucial given how much the industry is evolving with technological advancements. Willing and able learners obviously can keep up with the latest developments much better than disinterested parties.”

Lastly, he says e-learning enables the standardisation of training across different regions. This consistency ensures that all automotive professionals receive the same level of training and knowledge.