Multi-skilling : a pilot investigation of the potential impact of the practical design and implementation of multi-skilling to optimise employees and achieve improved productivity within the automobile manufacturing industry.
In order to establish its status within the increasingly competitive global market South Africa needs to become a more active participant. In economic terms the current conjunction has often been characterised as a period of revitilised capital accumulation based on globalisation which in turn has helped bring about new forms ofproduction, distribution and consumption. Globalisation involves the integration of the economies of nation states through market mechanisms accompanied by increased transitional flexibility of capital, labour and new forms of technology. This insight of globalisation requires that we respond with greater competition and increased flexibility as we shift towards neo and post Fordist forms of work organisation rather than stick to outmoded practices of the past. One possible response to the requirement for greater labour flexibility lies in MultiSkilling, a system of skills flexibility recognised globally but still fairly new in South Africa. The current South Africa skills base is inadequate to meet global challenges and though change is becoming more so evident, existing education and training structures are doing little to ensure the higher degrees of skill flexibility required. This study focuses on Multi-Skilling and contextualise Multi-Skilling within the Automotive Manufacturing environment specifically where it has recently been implemented. This study shows that for Multi-Skilling to succeed, education, training and development of the workforce needs to be prioritised to uplift large numbers of employees who had been previously disadvantaged and limited to low levels of skill. Multi-Skilling will be shown to be of value and benefit to employer and employee alike as it offers opportunities for growth to particular sectors of employees, namely operatives who had previously been limited to routine and repetitive single focus tasks for years on end. lbis study shows that when the approach to Multi-Skilling involves the intention to encourage career development, improved grades and rates of pay for lower level employees, namely operatives through recognition of acquired skills, it has potential to assist the motor manufacturing industry achieve the world class manufacturing status provided that flexibility, quality and productivity of manning is accepted by the workforce as well.