South Africa’s rising star

Since its launch in 2010, the Skills for Life programme has been a huge success, with all nine apprentices successfully forging careers with Volvo Trucks in South Africa. Now Manqoba Mkhize has become the first graduate to reach a VISTA semi final.

In 2011 Manqoba Mkhize started working as an apprentice diesel technician at the Volvo Trucks Center in Pinetown near Durban, South Africa. He was one of nine local high school students who had been awarded a scholarship through the Skills for Life programme – an extension of the Star for Life programme – whereby apprenticeships are offered to students from underprivileged communities.

“I reside in Umlazi, a township south of Durban, and I was raised by a single parent that was my mother,” says Manqoba. “I am the eldest and I have three little brothers. We were facing financial issues because my mum was not working. This encouraged me to study very hard so that my family and I will have a better life in the future. When I was doing my metric I was not sure how I was going to advance my studies because my mum could not afford to pay for any fees.”

Skills for Life has helped students like Manqoba, as the standard requirements for formal technical training are waived on account of their disadvantaged backgrounds. However each of the nine apprentices has shown such tremendous drive and ambition, that this has more than compensated.

Today Manqoba is an integral part of the team in Pinetown, and is now a fully qualified diesel technician after graduating last January. However the biggest highlight so far was qualifying for the Southern Africa VISTA semi finals in Madrid last April.

“When I started my apprenticeship, to be honest, I did not know that it could take me overseas,” he says. “The trip to Madrid was an experience of a life time. I was out of the country for the first time, and it was a dream come true to go to overseas. I got to experience the different culture compared to South Africa, for example different food and clothes.”

By qualifying for the semi final, Manqoba and his team Rangers, have shown they are amongst the best technicians in southern Africa – a huge achievement considering Manqoba’s beginnings. But he is still young, has a long career ahead of him and just as ambitious as he was the day he started his apprenticeship.

“I am looking forward to the 2014 VISTA competition,” he adds. “I will certainly partake and I will make sure that my team and I will make it to the final round.”

Read more about Volvo Trucks’ involvement with Star for Life and Skills for Life:

See Manqoba Mkhize and other Skills for Life apprentices at their workshop in Pinetown, in this film made in 2012:

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