Five years ago Manqoba Mkhize was granted a Skills for Life scholarship to be an apprentice technician for Volvo Trucks in South Africa. Now he is getting ready for the VISTA world final where he will take his place alongside the best technicians in Volvo Trucks’ global service network.
Manqoba Mkhize’s career at Volvo Trucks started in 2011 when he was one of nine local high school students who were 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. He started working as an apprentice diesel technician at the Volvo Trucks Center in Pinetown near Durban, South Africa where he remains today.
“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 have shown such tremendous drive and ambition, that this has more than compensated.
Manqoba quickly became an integral part of the team and graduated as a fully qualified diesel technician in 2013. In the same year, he was part of a VISTA team that reached the Southern Africa VISTA semi finals, which were held in Madrid. In VISTA 2015-2106, he and his teammates not only reached the semi-finals again, but have gone one step further and have qualified for the world final.
“I can’t wait for the world final – to represent South Africa and meet all the best technicians,” says Manqoba. “Everyone at Volvo Trucks in South Africa is very happy. Not just our branch, but the whole company. Even Torbjörn Christensson (President of Volvo Trucks South Africa) has congratulated us.”
The world final will actually be Manqoba’s second visit to Gothenburg, after first visiting during the semi-finals last April. “Sweden is a lovely country. It was interesting to visit the Volvo museum and see how Volvo has developed from generation to generation to become what it is today. It is very impressive.”
The opportunity to travel abroad was not something that Manqoba envisioned when he first started at Volvo Trucks, but it is just one of many ways his life has changed since starting his apprenticeship. “Where I come from, it is very tough for youth and many people are not doing so well. So my family is very happy that I have been given this opportunity. I have gotten lots of support from Volvo and learned many new things.”