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Published by tasch, 2020-07-02 06:27:24


Keywords: Skills,Final Strung,Sunday Times,Business media mags,July 2020,Mag2020

Cas Coovadia Dr Morris Mthombeni Shirley Zinn

Miranda Hosking Thabo Mashongoane Zaida Samuels


Informing and guiding skills Young learners chat about post-school
development for economic growth training opportunities with a NSA Secretariat

and employment creation employee at the career expo held in March.

R esponding to national priorities, the National Skills CHALLENGES, CHANGES AND INITIATIVES IMAGES: SUPPLIED
Authority (NSA) has championed the establishment
of Provincial Skills Development Forums (PSDFs) Several challenges in the implementation of skills development interventions
across the country and the government has are currently being experienced The closure of learning institutions, due
encouraged the development of master skills to COVID-19, has slowed the pace of achieving the set targets as outlined
plans in all nine provinces. e skills plans aim to ensure in the National Development Plan (NDP) vision 2030. The NDP calls
that the skills demands arising from provincial growth for an improvement in the quality of education and training to enhance
and development strategies are met with skilled and the capabilities of our people so that they become active participants in
capable people. developing the potential of the country. The NDP further explores the need
to improve skills in every job and target 1.2 million workers through skills
The NSA further defined the role of the PSDFs as: improvement programmes annually from 2013. Every Sector Education and
• a catalyst and vehicle for bringing an impetus to the lives Training Authority (SETA) should, therefore, aim to facilitate and co-finance
training for about 10 per cent of the workforce annually.
of the people
• the ultimate melting pot of national, provincial and local One of government’s priorities is to improve the transition of its youth
from learning to earning and to better prepare more young people for
initiatives at political and administrative level the labour market. The government has embarked on a journey to build a
• ensuring that all citizens participate in and benefit from modern, high-quality and agile skills development system aligned with the
output and quality of a more technology-driven labour market. Combining
the planned economic growth strategies in line with an theoretical and practical education is a central goal of key role players within
the private sector and will allow businesses to better reap the benefits of
increasing skilled and capable South Africa workforce. improved vocational training.
The PSDFs advocacy on skills development is focused on:
• responding to the goals of the NSDS III The efforts of all stakeholders and role players must be integrated to
• serving as a subcomponent of the Human Resource begin resolving the issues that prevent people from participating fully in the
Development (HRD) strategy economy. This is something the third National Skills Development Strategy
• aligning with the strategic objectives of other (NSDS III) has sought to address since its inception in 2011. The National
national skills and HRD-related priorities Skills Development Plan (NSDP) is, therefore, crafted to enable government
• integrating the key HRD and skills development and social partners to contribute towards economic growth, employment
strategies, which the provinces are required to creation and social development.
have in place, into a single master plan for guiding
skills development The NSDP and the new SETA landscape – ushered in on 1 April 2020 –
• providing a consolidating mechanism for collecting, aims to bring about changes regarding the leadership and governance in
monitoring, evaluating and sharing skills supply and skills development. To achieve high levels of economic growth and address
demand data across the provinces to enable a continuous unemployment, poverty and inequality, and fulfill the NSDP’s vision of an
understanding of the impact of skills development educated, skilled and capable workforce, social partners must work together
• fostering collaboration and systemic relationships to invest in skills development and focus on creating the right match
with the SETAs, public institutions and other skills between the skills offered and those needed.
development role players.



The government has embarked on a journey to build
a modern, high-quality and agile skills development
system aligned with the output and quality of a more
technology-driven labour market.

EDUCATIONAL INTERVENTIONS From left: Mr Zukile Mvalo, Deputy Director General: Skills
Branch, Department of Higher Education and Training, and Dr
Improved and effective context-specific labour market information Thabo Mashongoane, Executive Officer: National Skills Authority,
systems (LMIS) are needed to support local authorities in
reinstitutionalising the effectiveness of technical and vocational present Ms Rhulani Makhubele of Namunthla Training and
education and training (TVET). This requires working with a large Development with the Best Skills Programme award.
number of stakeholders to address complex cultural values and
social behaviour and bridge institutional boundaries. While some ALIGNMENT TO THE FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
institutions and members of the TVET community may already
have valuable experience with online learning strategies and are The Media, Information and Communication Technologies (MICT)
set up to offer large-scale online solutions without much delay, SETA has made excellent progress in responding to the effects of
others are still in the learning phase. They may find it useful to hear the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) on job obsolescence and skills
about working solutions that can be adapted to local contexts and demands including:
implemented quickly. • establishing 4IR committees to effectively and efficiently respond to

Different forms of online learning and collaboration have become the national imperatives
the focus in an effort to ensure continuity of learning and skills • aligning with all sector-related 4IR activities including working with
development amid the current crisis. Role players should look at
introducing a platform for mutual support, knowledge-sharing and the Department of Telecommunications and Digital Transformation
peer learning, where advice can be sought and the challenges and (DTDT) to address skills shortages
• engaging with stakeholders in reskilling and upskilling initiatives,
needs of the current skills programmes discussed. ■ the development of qualifications, and identification of priority
outcomes for the sector including, among others, the fourth industrial
revolution; internet of things; artificial intelligence; data scientists;
cloud computing; and big data, collaborating with the Technology
Innovation Agency (TIA) on new ICT inventions and solutions and with
the CSIR on ICT research to determine future 4IR skills demands and
develop 4IR training modules.
Through the tools and resources at the NSA’s disposal – the strategies,
plans, funding, institutions and research – we must ensure that we build
an environment where our people have access to proper education,
training and skills development.

The NSA convened a workshop with the Provincial Skills For more information, visit our website
Development Forum and Sector Education and Training Authority.
[email protected]
178 Francis Baard Street
6Th floor Ndinaye House
(012) 312 5066




T he COVID-19 pandemic has impacted e COVID-19 pandemic has, in many ways, PUBLISHED BY
on society in more ways than we could forced us to accelerate the fourth industrial
ever have imagined. We have been revolution. We need to embrace technology and A proud division of Arena Holdings
made aware of the severe health costs, ensure that workers at all levels understand and 13th Floor, 2 Long Street, Cape Town, 8001
but the cost to the economy has also use technology in ways that will not only advance Tel: +27 21 469 2400 | Fax: +27 86 682 2926
been huge. their jobs, but also the greater good of society.
As the economy starts recovering, hopefully, e “new normal”, which we are forced to
over the next few years, government and the accept, means that we cannot continue to do EDITORIAL
private sector will have to make unpleasant things as we have always done.
choices. ey will have to reprioritise many Editor: Ryland Fisher
areas of their spending. We hope that skills We need to develop new skills so that we can Content Manager: Raina Julies
development will remain one of their priorities. all contribute to getting our country back on the
path where we can deal with the many problems [email protected]
Not too long ago – but it seems like a lifetime we had even before COVID-19. We have no Contributors: Justin Brown, Trevor Crighton,
now – President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his State choice: proper skills development must remain
of the Nation Address in February, made a one of our main priorities. Delia du Toit, James Francis, Dale Hes,
commitment to skills development, especially Copy Editor: Brenda Bryden
in so far as it helps prepare young people Ryland Fisher
for work. Editor Content Co-ordinator: Vanessa Payne
Digital Editor: Stacey Visser
[email protected]
A look at what government and business needs to do to DESIGN
accelerate skills development
Head of Design: Jayne Macé-Ferguson
10 SCARCE SKILLS Design Team: Mfundo Archie Ndzo,
Investing in IT and so skills training
Lesley-Ann van Schalkwyk
12 FOURTH INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION Advert Designer: Bulelwa Sotashe
Why it is imperative to continue investing in 4IR technologies
Getting ready for a post-COVID-19 world Project Manager: Jeanette Nicholson
[email protected] | +27 21 469 2566
Unemployment and a oundering economy necessitate a new PRODUCTION
funding model for skills development
Production Editor: Shamiela Brenner
20 TECHNOLOGY Advertising Co-ordinator:
Harnessing the power of technology in skills Merle Baatjes
development programmes
Subscriptions and Distribution:
22 ENTREPRENEURSHIP Shumiera Fredericks,
Can small businesses help our economy recover?
[email protected]
Upskilling is an essential part of modern company culture MANAGEMENT

26 HUMAN RESOURCES Management Accountant: Deidre Musha
e changing priorities of managing your workforce in a Business Manager: Lodewyk van der Walt
post- COVID-19 environment General Manager, Magazines: Jocelyne Bayer

Copyright: Picasso Headline.
No portion of this magazine may be reproduced

in any form without written consent of the
publisher. The publisher is not responsible for

unsolicited material. Skills Development is
published by Picasso Headline. The opinions
expressed are not necessarily those of Picasso
Headline. All advertisements/advertorials have
been paid for and therefore do not carry any

endorsement by the publisher.




PROGRAMMES CHEP’s programme aims to provide graduates with a broad
and deep knowledge of the business while preparing them for a
Graduate development programmes and other permanent role in the organisation by the end of year two. Following
initiatives that bridge the gap between education an induction programme, graduates embark on formal training to
and employment can help graduates adapt and develop core business and leadership skills such as presentation,
thrive when transitioning to the world of work negotiating and influencing, and a curriculum of inclusion and
diversity. Part of the programme involves rotating graduates
between various departments to expose them to as many aspects of
the organisation as possible. “This is something that has helped me
tremendously,” says Magubane. “I have been a part of departments
I never imagined being part of. This has added so many skills and
developed my career.

“As CHEP is a global organisation, we were exposed to different
markets and supply chains,” she adds. “This has provided an
opportunity to grow with likeminded graduates in the same
programme from different parts of the world.”

I t’s a common concern that while tertiary studies arm “CHEP has an open-door policy – every person I have
graduates with theory and subject knowledge, they still dealt with is always ready to listen and engage.”
find themselves short of critical skills when entering the
workplace – especially given the rapid pace of change – Sibusisiwe Magubane
happening within certain industries.
Sibusisiwe Magubane, an economics student at university, Even with the support of a graduate development programme
says that the biggest challenge she faced was the gap between Magubane says that she “initially had a hard time fully immersing
the lecture hall and corporate workday South Africa. “It is myself into the working environment”. However, after “a month or
sometimes hard to imagine and plan your path when you are two of second-guessing ideas and my place in the company”, she
constantly fed theoretical information, with little to no practical quickly began to adapt to the company culture.
exposure,” she explains.
To help graduates through such challenges, they are each assigned
Two initiatives helped her overcome this: the first was Enactus, a mentor for the duration of the programme. Magubane describes
a global organisation linking universities to create a space where this as “one of the most exciting things about this programme. Not
students, corporates, academia and sometimes government can only that, but we also have extensive support from our department
collaborate to solve current issues. Through Enactus, Magubane managers in all our rotations, as well as continuous support from
took on a project management role for a food security project. our talent and learning team. This ensures that we are equipped
“This had me writing assignments and project plans, rushing to a with all the skills needed for our new roles. CHEP has an open-door
test and to a meeting with heads of departments all at once,” policy – every person I have dealt with is always ready to listen
and engage.”
she says. “It bridged the gap.”
Then, a graduate development Magubane believes that this type of graduate programme is
programme further helped her to valuable not only for the supply chain industry in which she
hit the ground running. operates, but also in South Africa as a whole. “Supply chains all
During her time with Enactus, around the world are changing and digitising. Artificial intelligence
Magubane was exposed and innovation are some of the buzz words of our generation.
to CHEP, a leading supply Programmes like these give graduates and employers a chance to
chain solutions company thoughtfully engage around these topics and how they apply to the
and local subsidiary of the specific organisation. The ripple effect of these engagements can be
Brambles group. Feeling felt in our country’s economy on a larger scale,” she says. ■
that the company’s values
resonated strongly with her For more information, visit our website
own interest in sustainable
business practices and growth, [email protected]
Magubane leapt at the chance 0800 330 334
to apply to their graduate
development programme.






Ryland Fisher looks at what is about taking a simple action that will have a
government and business should compound e ect if we do it consistently.”
do di erently with regards to
skills development, especially in Zaida Samuels, human resources director at
a post-COVID-19 era KWV, says that the pandemic has “highlighted
our perceptions of key skills.
T he COVID-19 pandemic has exposed
the fault lines in our society, especially “It has further exposed and forced us to look
with regards to skills development, at the huge systemic issues in our education
where lower-skilled workers have and learning systems, which need to be dealt
been ignored while middle managers with from point of entry. For example, we
have grabbed opportunities to attend training cannot focus on free education at university
courses. is has to change, says Dr Harlan level if we have not ensured our basic education
Cloete, extraordinary lecturer at Stellenbosch is at acceptable levels. Government needs
University’s School of Public Leadership and to focus on teaching mechanisms at schools to
an expert in skills development, especially in equip our learners to think di erently
the public sphere. Dr Harlan and prepare better for the digital future,”
“Just before the lockdown, we did a human Cloete she explains
resources training course for municipalities.
e biggest need is among blue-collar workers with skills development and job creation. “Interestingly, at the dire points of lockdown
who have to be upskilled. It is easy for middle “It needs a partnership between business level 5, fundamental skills like machine
managers to do online courses because they operators, drivers and artisans were the key to
inevitably have access to Wi-Fi. e and government, especially local government. keeping businesses a oat. Higher paid skills
lower-skilled workers have, for the last 20 years If these partners could build stadiums in 2010, were practically helpless at this point. is
or so, been neglected,” Cloete says. then, surely, they can come together to say: should be an important lesson to eliminate
“Online training is this is how we are going to ght this virus and stigmas of low education and thinking
di cult for blue-collar improve skills development,” he says. abilities attached to semi-skilled levels of
workers. I can still see work. Government should do more to promote
us doing face-to-face “We recently and upli these skills levels. School leavers
training with blue- completed a study should be encouraged to go into trades, not
collar workers, but on local economic as a fall back to a failed academic career, but
we have to upskill them. development, and it as a respected option that gives learners the
“ is virus has just comes down to assisting opportunity to gain skills that makes them self-
accelerated the fourth local municipalities, sustainable,” Samuels says.
industrial revolution.” making a concerted e ort
Cloete believes to buy local and making She feels that the fourth industrial revolution
that we need a social sure that local economies “will not wait until we are ready to embrace it.
compact and a new Zaida are resilient. We need to
social solidarity to deal Samuels take young people into “Research and innovation are key
internships. e economy interventions if we want to keep up with
will grow if local people the rest of the world. Businesses need to be
change their mindsets. It supported on how to change the way they do
business without impacting on the livelihood
THE DIGITAL SHIFT ALONGSIDE EACH OTHER.”— ZAIDA SAMUELS of lifelong learning should be introduced to
encourage businesses and individuals to make
the digital shi alongside each other,” she says.

“ is is by no means an overnight x and
we will, unfortunately, feel the impact of rising
unemployment due to this pandemic. It is key
that we act immediately with long-term views
of success and sustainability.” ■



Exemplary corporate governance
is the reason SASSETA attained
a clean audit outcome in the
2018/19 financial year and it will
be the beacon that it will focus on
in the future

C hris Mudau, newly-elected board
chairperson of the Safety and Security
Sector Education and Training Authority
(SASSETA), is adamant that SASSETA
will continue its upwards track during his
tenure until 2025.

Mudau believes that SETAs are more relevant
than ever, contributing towards building and
harnessing a new economy and mitigating the
impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

South Africa is facing an employment crisis
with many people set to lose their jobs due to
a combination of the country’s weak economy
and the shock and fallout of the coronavirus
pandemic, which has caused fear, confusion,
anxiety and massive uncertainty in the
labour market.

The safety and security sector is one of the
most labour-intensive sectors and a major
contributor to employment in the country.
In lieu of this, Mudau says that the SETAs
should play a crucial role in harnessing and
mitigating the impact of COVID-19 in terms
of reskilling (upskilling) and training people
for the new norm and the economy.



SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AT THE CENTRE aggressively targeting young people, behaviour change programmes to address
OF TRANSFORMATION rural areas, women empowerment, small patriarchal values, norms and structural
and micro enterprise development drivers, SASSETA’s education of high school
Mudau is set to lead the SASSETA board and and co-operatives. learners on gender-based violence will
organisation organisation and says: “We will continue when COVID-19 restrictions
work hard to harness and realise our vision SASSETA will also enhance its business are relaxed.
of being the leader in skills development for processes to improve its administration.
the safety and security sector. I am confident “The organisation is integrating To be more relevant in the safety and
that the skills, experiences, commitment information systems to improve service security sector, SASSETA’s stakeholders
and dedication within the board gives us the delivery, reduce cost and provide are re-prioritising their projects to combat
advantage to not only fulfil our mandate, but management tools and capabilities the COVID-19 pandemic, promote female
also to elevate the impact of the SETA. that will enhance the overall customer entrepreneurship, create opportunities for
experience of SASSETA stakeholders. the uptake of black lawyers and stimulate the
“The board will continue to position SMME sector.
the strategic framework of the SETA in “Platforms are being developed to
the context of opportunities and risks, automate most of our business processes Another key focus for the organisation is the
while also continuing to strengthen risk including the enrolment of learners and transformation of the safety and security sector
management capabilities that will enable an accessing discretionary grants. SASSETA to make it more inclusive of rural communities,
effective response to our mandate and skills recently launched its e-learning platform young people and women. Equally important
priorities. I want to focus on strengthening and many training providers have already is improved support to SMMEs and the need to
relationships with all our stakeholders to applied for e-learning. We expect that the focus on these smaller players in the safety and
ensure impact, quality, efficient and high uptake will increase rapidly in the weeks security sector – to provide them with the skills
performance,” he says. to come,” says Memela. to grow and develop into communities that can
be self-sustaining.
Mudau believes that CEOs must account “I want to focus on strengthening
to the board, but must be given the space and relationships with all our SASSETA’s special programmes entail a
authority for the day-to-day management stakeholders to ensure impact, range of development projects initiated by the
of the business affairs of the institution, quality, efficient and high organisation in deep rural communities across
according to the strategic plan and objectives performance.” – Chris Mudua South Africa. e programmes also cover
adopted and approved by the board. development areas such as ICT, as well as driving
SASSETA is reprioritising its empowerment programmes for victims of
Education and skills development interventions to contribute towards crime. SASSETA’s future focus will be on special
are at the apex of the government combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, programmes for women-centred projects. 
promote entrepreneurship, youth
agenda and it is for this reason that, interventions, women empowerment, and “SASSETA has succeeded in walking a long
to overcome the legacy of our to stimulate the SMEs in the sector. and challenging path. is can be attributed
country’s past, the government to the executive management, management,
took a conscious decision to place “SASSETA looks forward to the employee teams who are committed and
skills development continued support of the incoming board determined to achieve the organisation’s vision
at the centre of the as we strive to create and leave a legacy and goals.
transformation agenda. and make the future count,” says Memela.
SASSETA serves: “I look forward to the continued support of the
STRIVING TO CREATE • The South African Police Services incoming board as we strive to leave a legacy
A LEGACY • Department of Correctional Services and make the future count. And, through
• Department of Defence positive skills development initiatives,
SASSETA will focus on • Department of Justice and we will advance transformation and
strengthening industry professionalisation in the safety and security
partnerships, technical Constitutional Development sector,” says Mudau. ■
and specialised skills, • Legal and paralegal services, legal aid For more information
professionalisation and
services and sheriffs of the court [email protected]
transformation of the sector, • Private security sector. Building 2
and building an active Waterfall Corporate Campus
citizenry. NEW INITIATIVES 74 Waterfall Drive Midrand
011 087 5555
“We may not yet have The SASSETA is improving the
all the tools of tomorrow, skills of those dedicated individuals SKILLS DEVELOPMENT 9
but we certainly have the who are dealing with the increased
leadership of today in the surge of violence against women and
acting chief executive children. Through the development
and implementation of targeted social
officer Vukani Memela,”
says Mudau.

Memela will lead
the organisation
in expanding its
national footprint
with programmes

SUNKDEIRLSTLANSDINGG TAHEP skills as many people are working from home.
South Africa’s shortage of information technology, digital and “ e stay-home economy requires a di erent
other skills have been made even more evident during the set of leadership skills particularly to lead,
COVID-19 pandemic, reports Justin Brown inspire teams, and encourage collaboration via
online platforms,” says Soko.
T he coronavirus (COVID-19) “You will be le behind if you are not willing
pandemic and national lockdown to embrace it. You will become redundant,” Jacobs says that there is a need for change as
have highlighted glaring gaps in he says. South African productivity levels are nowhere
South Africa’s health, workplace and near the best in the world. Remote working
technological skills. “COVID-19 will speed up the digital has resulted in people working harder and
Cas Coovadia, Business Unity South Africa transformation of organisations, which will longer hours. “What we have discovered is that
(Busa) CEO, says: “COVID-19 has allowed us require professionals with digital skills such this is a preferred way of working. People are
to relook at our economy to see how we can as coding, web development and digital delivering quality work on time. Productivity
reset it.” He says that from Busa’s point of view, marketing,” says Wits Business School has improved.”
there is a need to review legislation to allow professor, Mills Soko.
workers to enter the country to plug TIMES OF CALAMITY MAKE SOFT SKILLS
Cape Chamber of Commerce president
Geo Jacobs says: “Overnight we had to deal Soko says that the government had identi ed Dr Morris Mthombeni, interim dean of the
with the fourth industrial revolution. But we scarce skills required to grow the economy. Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS),
don’t have those skills. We are talking about says that there is a rapidly increasing demand
arti cial intelligence, automation, robotics ese include: for so skills. “With everyone working from
and digitalisation. We are again seeing that IT
skills are lacking.” • IT and communications “Overnight we had to
Jacobs says that for South Africa • engineering deal with the fourth
to get the best out of the fourth • health professionals industrial revolution.
industrial revolution (4IR), • natural and social science experts But we don’t have
the country needs to invest • people with business, management and those skills.”
in training the workforce.
“Companies and people economics skills — GEOFF JACOBS
have to recognise that the
world is changing and • architects, town planners Geoff
that technology is Jacobs
taking an ever- and surveyors.
increasingly e need for social distancing and the
place in it. Cas
Coovadia lockdown has forced people to work from
home. is change has highlighted the need
for technological expertise.

“ e lockdown has resulted in a shi
overnight to remote working. We
don’t think that businesses will
go back to the old ways of doing
work once COVID-19 ends,”
Jacobs says. “To deal with
remote working it has become
essential for people to
develop their skills to work
with platforms like Zoom
and Microso Teams.”
e new dispensation
requires managers to
develop new leadership



IMAGES: SUPPLIED home, employees need to have so skills to Professor WHAT IS THE
show up when no one is going to tell them. e Mills Soko FOURTH INDUSTRIAL
education system doesn’t teach so skills. We REVOLUTION?
have a huge gap in the area of so skills,” COMPANIES TAKEN BY SURPRISE AND
he says. ILL-PREPARED Innovations in digital, biological and
science realms drive the fourth industrial
So skills include adaptability, collaboration, Mthombeni says that the coronavirus crisis revolution. It covers topics including
taking risks and experimentation, problem- highlighted that many companies were ill- artificial intelligence, blockchain,
solving, agility, exibility, creativity and prepared with no plans in place to handle nanotechnology, biotechnology, internet
innovation. All of these are needed during a crisis. of things, cloud computing, autonomous
times of distress. vehicles, and 3D printing.
“What has surprised me is how few
Mthombeni says that business leaders need businesses have planned for unexpected WHAT IS COVID-19?
to ensure that they impress on their employees scenarios. Organisations that have continuity
the need to strike a balance between work plans in place are able to sustain themselves The coronavirus or COVID-19 is an
and life, especially when working from home. during this crisis. If more businesses had infectious disease discovered in Wuhan,
“And,” he adds, “companies must address the continuity plans then they could have China in late 2019 before spreading
psychological health of employees during responded with greater agility,” he explains. around the world. The World Health
the pandemic. Employees also need to be cross- Organisation (WHO) declared COVID-19 a
skilled so that if someone gets sick, other sta Soko says that data literacy is a critical global pandemic on March 11.
members can step in and cover their duties.” business skill and is even more crucial in the
context of a post-COVID-19 era because of the By June 11, worldwide reported cases of
Coovadia agrees: “We need skills that need to predict future business disruptions. COVID-19 stood at 7.2 million, and deaths
enable people to be agile, exible and strategic. due to the disease were over 413 000,
We need to apply those skills to rebuild our Another area where many businesses fall according to the WHO. South Africa had
economy post-COVID-19” short is in managing their cash ow and there nearly 60 000 cases of COVID-19, and
is a need for more skills in this area. local deaths stood over to 1 200.
According to Coovadia, businesses have
developed new manufacturing skills to make “Businesses also need to improve their would reach a peak later this year. “If scientists
the equipment and materials required to ability to keep their employees engaged during develop a vaccine to deal with COVID-19 that
combat the coronavirus. ese businesses have the pandemic,” says Mthombeni. would help. However, it is likely to take at least
also enhanced logistics and procurement skills two years before South Africa and the local
in their workforces to acquire and transport In the early days of the COVID-19 lockdown, economy get back to where they were before the
materials e ciently. GIBS focused on keeping employees COVID-19 outbreak.”
motivated by holding daily
He says that there is a great need for more Zoom meetings. He says that once the crisis has passed,
local production of personal protective South Africa needs to develop its skills to allow
equipment (PPE) such as masks, visors and GREATER FOCUS ON OTHER SKILLS NEEDED for the building of a more competitive and
sanitisers. South Africa was technologically-based economy.
importing kits to test Mthombeni says the crisis highlighted the
for the coronavirus, need for lifelong learning and “At the same time, we need to develop skills
he adds, and there are the ability to respond to that allow people to get jobs and to address
plans to make this changing circumstances. inequalities. It is a tough task,” he says.
equipment in Coovadia says that Busa
the country. believes that the number COVID-19 has placed greater focus on
of cases in South Africa medical skills and health and safety expertise,
Dr Morris while Soko says that there is likely to be a
Mthombeni great demand for skills in businesses that had
boomed during COVID-19. ese are skills
related to food delivery, streaming media such
as Net ix, companies that make audiobooks
and e-books, rms that produce gaming and
e-sports, as well as virtual health services. ■

Soft skills include adaptability, collaboration,
taking risks and experimentation, problemsolving,
agility, flexibility, creativity and innovation.


The Tshimologong District
technology incubator hub
in Johannesburg facilitates
collaboration between
technology entrepreneurs.

IS THE DIGITAL Why isn’t South
Africa getting
DIVIDE WIDENING? ahead with technology
skills, and what can
we do about it?
James Francis reports

T he COVID-19 pandemic has had one technology incubator. “It’s certainly given a for the masses. And leaders aren’t grasping its
signi cant silver lining. It nally put huge boost to digital transformation, but it’s importance or urgency.
years of claims and hubris around also shown huge gaps and huge shortcomings.”
digital technology to the test, and “ e gap is widening speci cally because
digital technology has come out the While some of us could work at home, many many leaders don’t understand how to manage
winner. We no longer have to talk about found themselves facing starvation. Our society a digital context,” explains Warren Hero, chief
esoteric examples such as ride-sharing or is at once both enthusiastically 21st century and information o cer (CIO) of Webber Wentzel
robotic warehouses. We can now point to the depressingly 19th century. and well-known local technology evangelist.
companies that weren’t su ciently digital and
thus incapable of switching work modes as the “Where there wasn’t technology, the THE RISE OF SOCIAL DETERMINISM
pandemic demanded it. have-nots found themselves in a much worse
situation now than they were before,” says e problem of nding a digital context can
But this has also exposed the massive gap in Bilal Kathrada, a fourth industrial revolution be explained by comparing two di erent
South Africa between the haves and have-nots (4IR) skills promoter and CEO of online doctrines. e doctrine of technology
of technology called the “digital divide”. Even education service IT Varsity. “I would put that determinism holds that technology will drive
a er years of e ort, the gap remains big and, to about 70 per cent of the population of our and determine a society’s values. It harkens
by some accounts, has grown. country. It’s de nitely a great deal worse for a back to the same logic that drove the industrial
lot of people.” revolution, where business barons held onto
“One mustn’t romanticise the digital theories such as Malthusianism to justify their
transformation consequences of COVID-19,” COVID-19 has exposed a failure to serve rampant disregard for the poor’s conditions.
says Professor Barry Dwolatzky, chief the public good. ough there has been much Technology, it is argued, will trickle down to
visionary o cer of the Tshimologong District talk from companies and the state, e orts on bene t the masses. But it is a awed doctrine,
the ground have not translated into success



IMAGES: SUPPLIED more in line with comfortable Silicon Valley of technology can make us the heirs of 4IR. But Warren
o ces than the dusty streets of townships. that requires a more technology-literate society, Hero
as well as pursuing so skills such as problem-
In contrast, social determinism argues solving, self-learning and communication. Professor
that social interactions de ne the values of While many projects are establishing smart Barry Dwolatzky
individuals and society. It’s a more potent schools and tablets for students, these three
doctrine, but when we confuse the two, we end values are not being pursued with equal vigour. Bilal
up with the digital divide we see today. Yet they should be. Kathrada

“ e need for this massive digital GETTING CONNECTED divide has grown. Technology can’t save us.
transformation is driven not by companies Only a determination to empower people
saying they’re installing 5G or other Access to connectivity is as important as through technology can change the picture.
technologies,” says Dwolatzky. “It comes from teaching technology-related skills. Despite a
social determinism, saying if we’re going to be “ e advantage of COVID-19 is that it has
a successful society, we’ve got to be connected ood of devices into the market, many remain highlighted issues that already exist,” says
in a good and e ective way.” either too expensive or dysfunctional to help Kathrada. “One can only hope that now the
poorer citizens. Little can be said about the powers that be will take it a lot more seriously,
“THE GAP IS WIDENING price of mobile broadband data, the mainline make a change and start implementing actual
SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE MANY of connectivity for most South Africans, other strategies to overcome this problem.” ■
LEADERS DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW than it remains utterly una ordable and grossly
TO MANAGE A DIGITAL CONTEXT.” out of step with the needs of the country.
e cost of connectivity is a theme shared by
THE RIGHT SKILLS practically all commentators on the subject of
4IR skills. Kathrada points out that many of his
It’s easy to see that we have a technology skills students couldn’t study during the lockdown
problem. ere is a heavy focus on teaching because they relied on community spots such
STEM (science, technology, engineering and as internet cafes to get proper online access.
mathematics) skills, including newer concepts
such as computer programming. But STEM, Connectivity is even a professional barrier,
though vital, is not enough. e missing says Hero. “When we shi ed to remote
ingredient is technology literacy. e ease with working, we could see connectivity problems
which we can operate modern devices has – especially among junior employees who lived
lulled us into thinking we are technologically in outlying areas. Connectivity is o en not
literate, where most of us are only barely good or a ordable.”
technologically functional.
Some go as far as to outright question the
4IR skills can be de ned as a pyramid. Closer commitment of the mobile networks to the
to the tip, we nd those skills that manipulate wellbeing of South Africans. Many noted
new technologies such as arti cial intelligence that the mobile network operators aren’t
and robots. But closer to the base, we need incentivised to serve the public.
skills that enable control of technology. For
example, making a simple Zoom call is still a Despite symbolic cuts that look impressive
functional barrier for many. How can a country as percentiles, most South Africans still can
expect great things from technology when most barely a ord data at all – let alone enough to
of its people can’t even accomplish the basics? help them take ownership of technology and
digital lifestyles. When people have to choose
is is not only a matter of helping those at between data and food, 4IR loses.
the bottom rung. It speaks to the opportunities
for South Africa, and those it already AN IMPERATIVE FOR THE FUTURE
missed, says Kathrada. “ e move towards
the technology and services sector is being 4IR skills are just part of the conversation. e
embraced by non-European countries such as larger topic is the technological emancipation
India. But we’ve completely missed out. We and empowerment of the country’s people.
still study to nd a job at a big company, not to
pursue a global IT services sector.” is is necessary if we hope to be a competitive
society, says Hero. “Being more competitive is
To put it more bluntly, Africa risks becoming about being able to attract funds and resources
a net importer of technology, a mere consumer deferential to our country. And that’s what
of other places’ innovations. Taking the reins we in Africa have to get right. If we don’t, we
will be the objects of the fourth industrial
revolution to the bene t of others.”

ere needs to be more action following
policy, more collaboration among the various
stakeholders from the state to networks to
educators, and acceptance that the digital


EDUCATING A need for emotional intelligence skills – the
capacity to be aware of, control and express
POST-PANDEMIC one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal
WORLD relationships judiciously and empathetically.
The current pandemic has
added urgency to the unskilled is might be a newcomer to the critical skills
labour force crisis in South arena, but certainly one of great value to
Africa. Delia du Toit spoke to personal and professional development.”
a few education experts about
the next steps IMPENDING AUDIT

O ne thing is clear from the UNPREDICTABLE Mashongoane says collaboration between
COVID-19-pandemic so far: resilience SETAs, provincial departments and local
and adaptability are essential skills The World Economic Forum government departments to determine
in navigating the uncertain future estimates that 65 per cent of skills demands in the coming months and
that lies ahead. Repairing much of the primary school children today will years is now critical as this will inform
damage the past few months have wrought will be working in job types that do educational needs.
lie squarely on the shoulders of educational
institutions and their ability to adapt. not exist yet. Already, this has created a shi in learning
A Dell Technologies report predicts modalities at institutions, says Van Aswegen.
THE POST-PANDEMIC WORLD “ e implementation of blended and e-learning
that 85 per cent of the jobs that policies from SETAs has assisted many
Dr abo Mashongoane, executive o cer generations Z and Alpha will institutions to deliver methodologies that were
of the National Skills Authority in the not permitted in the past.”
Department of Higher Education and enter into in 2030 have not been
Training, says that the coronavirus outbreak invented yet. However, the key to creating a workforce
has certainly reshu ed training priorities that can help drive South Africa out of the
in every sector. “ e pandemic has made us Melissa van Aswegan, education and current and ensuing economic slump, she says,
realise that information and communication training quality assurance manager at e will be to keep these policies active. “We would
technology (ICT) is a key economic sector Skills Development Corporation, a specialist like to encourage SETAs not to withdraw
and generator of jobs and may be considered skills development organisation that assists these policies post-pandemic – keeping them
the backbone of the digital economy across businesses in attaining or retaining in place will accelerate the rate at which we
all sectors. It increases productivity and has a their B-bBEE level requirements, are addressing the skills shortages in our
profound impact on business processes, tasks agrees. “ICT skills, and the new country. Furthermore, it will also ensure
and the organisation of work across the entire generation of technological that the investment educational institutions
economy. However, as is the case with other solutions, will now be vital to and companies are making towards digital
sectors, in many countries the global ICT develop for the private and solutions is sustainable over the long-term.”
sector is facing a shortage of skilled workers.” public segments.”
But the skills audit cannot stop there.
Now and in the future, where working Along with that, she adds, Educational institutions, too, need to overhaul
remotely has suddenly become the norm rather traditional “so skills” such learning systems and help inform policy at a
than the exception, it will be even more critical as critical thinking and national level. Developing distance learning
to develop digital skills across all sectors – leadership will become more programmes will remain essential even when
not only training skilled workers, but also important going forward. “We the pandemic is nally over, says Mashongoane.
equipping employees in other areas of work are also seeing an increasing
with digital skills. “ e digital economy could “Creating opportunities for students to
make a signi cant contribution to advancing Dr Thabo learn and train anywhere, anytime,
economic growth at the global, regional and Mashongoane should become an integral part of
national levels. However, there still needs to be future education and the South
more e orts in place to increase a technology- African skills development system
driven labour market. Education and training explains,” Mashongoane.
for future skills is a critical part of realising is is feasible through the
this potential,” says Mashongoane. use of digital technologies
combined with the
development of policy
reforms. Policy considerations
should include a review
of existing curriculums,



IMAGES: SUPPLIED an assessment of available resources, the Melissa is means that lifelong learning must
improvement of online resources and adaptation van Aswegen become the norm, she adds. “Clearly, it is
of learning facilities and training centres, and no longer su cient to train workers to meet
the development of digital skills – all while EDUCATION OVERHAUL current needs. We should ensure access to
continuing with face-to-face learning. training programmes that support lifelong
ere is no going back, and educational skills development and focus on future
Institutions must also ensure interaction institutions cannot view the current need for market needs.”
with learners and focus on the needs of online learning as a eeting trend. ough
vulnerable groups,” says Mashongoane. experts agree that it’s nearly impossible to On the ip side, industries that were
predict which skills will emerge as critical allowed to operate during the lockdown
Clearly, data will play a big role in the in the coming years – whether due to the might also have more di culty in assessing
e ectiveness of future educational models and, pandemic or the advancement of the fourth skills needs because, for them, it was mostly
as such, can’t be allowed to continue operating industrial revolution – one thing business as usual. is is the position the
as in the past, adds Van Aswegen. “South is at least certain: online learning is agricultural industry nds itself in, says
Africans are victims of the second-highest data here to stay. Zenzele Myeza, CEO of AgriSETA. “We are
rates on the African continent. Precedence And because the future is conducting formal studies and are still in the
must be given to attaining a ordable broadband so uncertain, adaptability will process of fully understanding the impact and
connectivity for all. Partnerships between become a critical skill from now emerging skills resulting from the pandemic.”
government and private companies can bring on. Aviwe Mpikeleli, talent
forth formidable solutions to this problem.” and learning manager at supply Yet Myeza’s educated guesses seem in
chain giant CHEP sub-Saharan line with what other experts predict. “One
“We are conducting formal Africa, says as one of the essential expects that planning and analytical skills
studies and are still in the sectors during the lockdown, in the entire value chain of the sector are
process of fully understanding the supply chain and logistics important, particularly those relating to the
the impact and emerging skills diversi cation of agricultural enterprises
resulting from the pandemic.” should international markets (again) become
inaccessible. Research and development skills
— Zenzele Myeza will also be essential,” Myeza says.

Zenzele As in many sectors, multiskilled workers
Myeza will likely become the norm in the future as

industries have gleaned AI and robotics automate larger parts of
a few lessons that other sectors existing skill sets. “Adaptability
would do well to heed. “We have must be prioritised by creating
identi ed that the key capabilities a multiskilled workforce
during these times, and for through work-integrated
the future, include change learning. Problem-solving
management, collaboration, Aviwe must be included as a key
Mpikeleli methodology in learning and
work, and the link between
continuous improvement, workplaces and learning
advanced data analytics
and innovation,” institutions must be
Mpikeleli says. strengthened to create
seamless transitions
between learning and

working,” says Myeza.
Lastly, says

Van Aswegen,
skills must be
prioritised at basic

school level as
these skills will
play a crucial role
in rebuilding the

su ering economy
and creating
employment for
South Africa’s
large and growing
informal sector. ■



Finding new, improved

funding models

As the economy battles to keep its head above water during
COVID-19, funding skills development programmes will require
unprecedented levels of innovation. Dale Hes reports

T he COVID-19 pandemic eclipses any laying o workers. is is already an important Tumelo
previous challenge in democratic step for skills retention. e longer people are Chipfufu
South Africa, bringing our economy unemployed, the more their acquired skills
to the edge of a dizzying precipice. To degrade. It then becomes increasingly di cult simultaneously supporting the transformation
prevent its fall, skills development and for them to re-enter the job market. So, one programme of the country,” Chipfufa explains.
job creation need to be sustained. could argue that by protecting employment, the
government’s response is preventing the skills Government has identi ed infrastructure
But, how does government and the private situation from worsening.” development as one of the key pillars to
sector continue to fund skills development in drive economic growth post-COVID-19.
a time of unprecedented economic crisis? TAPPING INTO THE POTENTIAL OF EXISTING
GOVERNMENT PROGRAMMES Chipfufa says that the EPWP should play
PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS ARE a leading role in this area.
MORE ESSENTIAL THAN EVER Chipfufa points out that in his work linking
companies to opportunities for government “ e EPWP should play a major role in
Partnerships between government and the grants and incentives, he has noticed that the how infrastructure is delivered in the post-
private sector have always been regarded as private sector o en does not take cognisance COVID-19 period. e original idea behind
critical to the proper implementation of skills of the skills development potential o ered the EPWP was that labour-intensive
development programmes. “ ese partnerships by existing programmes. He highlights technologies would be used to build and
hold the key to successful skills development. National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, the Strategic maintain infrastructure while simultaneously
Unfortunate as the pandemic has been, one Partnerships Programme at the Department providing skills.
positive legacy may be that we have begun of Trade and Industry, and incubator
to rediscover some of the strengths of our programmes at the Small Enterprise Finance “However, the EPWP has not fully delivered
society that have assisted us to overcome severe Agency (SEFA). on its original objectives of empowering
di culties in the past,” says Tumelo Chipfufa, the youth, and a restructuring should be
joint managing director of Cova Advisory, “ ese are excellent instruments for considered,” he says.
which provides advisory services for building skills, promoting enterprises and
several government programmes. empowering communities. Companies and “ e employment period is quite short and
entrepreneurs need to educate themselves temporary to make a meaningful contribution
“ e initial lockdown by government about these opportunities.” in imparting skills to participants and
was conceived in a spirit of unity following empowering them to re-enter the labour
consultations between government, major He adds that, as we emerge from the market. e EPWP should be restructured in
political parties and other sectors of society. COVID-19 crisis, government should leverage ways that recognise the long-term nature of
One hopes that these type of partnerships the potential of the Yes4Youth programme unemployment of people in South Africa and
and social dialogue will not be lost and will and the Expanded Public Works Programme that it will take a very long period to nally
inform how we transform the skills (EPWP). “ e YES programme is an excellent overcome this problem,” concludes Chipfufa. ■
development landscape.” way for businesses to invest in the skills of
young people, unearth talent and improve
Chipfufa adds that government and the competitiveness of their businesses while
businesses have already taken some of
development and skills retention do not su er IN THE SKILLS OF YOUNG PEOPLE, UNEARTH TALENT AND IMPROVE THE
“Programmes such as the UIF Temporary
Relief Scheme (TERS) and the R200-billion
loan scheme for SMEs are aimed at ensuring
businesses do not respond to the crisis by




If fully harnessed, technology has all the potential to minimise the major disruptions to
skills development caused by COVID-19. Has our country managed to do this, and do we
have the capacity and resources to capitalise on technology? Dale Hes finds out

W hen President Cyril Ramaphosa take place without access to data, internet Higher Education and Training, MTN
announced a nationwide “hard” connectivity and devices such as smartphones zero-rated the costs of running websites for
lockdown in March, skills and computers. public universities.
development in South Africa
“Despite the many challenges that have “Every university comes with multiple URLs,
ground to an abrupt halt. arisen from the pandemic, the lockdown has with some of the large universities requiring
Government and private sector skills given us the opportunity to put e-learning support for up to 30 URLs each. MTN is
development programmes had to be halted, platforms, and the technology used to currently assisting 20 universities across
in accordance with disaster management enable this, to the test on a larger scale the country with zero-rating, and is liaising
regulations restricting the gathering and than ever before,” says Jacqui with the remaining six to assess their
movement of people. O’Sullivan, executive of requirements. MTN has also
e early days of lockdown were Corporate A airs at MTN zero-rated TVET colleges
characterised by uncertainty that bordered South Africa. FAST FACT websites, where online curricula
on the chaotic. But in the weeks and months “ e lessons we can be made available.
Project Isizwe’s free

that have followed, we have seen role-players have learnt from Wi-Fi initiative has, to Currently, MTN has

slowly getting to grips with this new reality. this provide valuable date, had a total of 2567k zero-rated several URLs for

Innovative new partnerships have been born, insights for authorities connections, 272TB of over 20 TVET colleges out
and much emphasis has been placed on and stakeholders in data used, and 15k unique of the 51 registered and the
investing in technologically-based solutions. the education sector on other TVET college sites are
how digital platforms can users per day. being vetted for zero-rating,”

Source: Project Isizwe

THE ICT SECTOR JUMPS IN complement conventional O’Sullivan points out.

With their control of vast swathes of critical methods of learning and Crucially, however, students
infrastructure and mobile networks, ICT teaching in the post-COVID-19 era,” must be able to access the remote learning
giants such as MTN and Vodacom hold one says O’Sullivan. opportunities that have arisen during this
of the most important keys to unlocking MTN has provided support for e-learning crisis. MTN’s partnership with Unisa has been
the doors of skills development in the era of at foundation phase and tertiary levels. In one of the foremost examples of making this
COVID-19. Remote learning simply cannot partnership with the Department of a reality. e partnership has seen students in
South Africa being provided with 30 gigabytes
“The lock down has given us the opportunity to put of data per month between mid-May and
e-learning platforms, and the technology used to enable mid-July.
this, to the test on a larger scale.” — Jacqui O’ Sullivan
e company has also supported primary
and secondary school learning. In April, they




Launched during the lockdown,
ConnectU is a zero-rated online portal
that links to open sources such as
Wikipedia and Wiktionary; free job
portals; free educational content on
the e-School platform; free health and
wellness information, and free access to
Facebook Flex, the low data alternative
to Facebook.

partnered with the Eastern Cape Department Project Isizwe facilitates the deployment of free internet hotspots
of Education to provide 72 000 SIM cards, within walking distance in low-income communities for educational
preloaded with data, to Grade 12 pupils. In
addition, MTN has contributed R27-million purposes, economic development and social inclusion.
towards the set up of virtual classrooms in the
IMAGES: SUPPLIED Eastern Cape. “During the lockdown, we atcher points out that a er school,
gave SIM cards to children skills development programmes such as
“ is move is part of MTN’s multipronged who didn’t have internet government’s Yes4Youth programme should
intervention that seeks to mitigate the negative at home.” — Siobhan Thatcher prepare the youth for remote working. “It is
impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the vital that youth have the skills they need to be
communities it operates in, particularly those and universal internet access for learners, able to work from home as the virus has shown
that have the least resources to counter the atcher stresses that in South Africa, this is that remote working is an e ective solution in a
pandemic,” says O’Sullivan. time of crisis.”
unfortunately not going to be a reality for at
Project Isizwe is an award-winning nonpro t “In an ideal world we want every student
that seeks to improve access to technologically- to have a laptop and internet, but we know Importantly, mobile operators have proved to
based solutions for school learners and in South Africa that currently, this is not a be responsive to improving access to data by
the youth. reality, so we need solutions that can work in signi cantly reducing their prices. Vodacom
today’s context. e important thing here is has slashed prices for data bundles by between
Siobhan atcher, a development manager to realise how much can be done with a basic 14 and 40 per cent, while MTN cut prices for
for the organisation, says that government smartphone that costs as little as R500.” certain bundles by between 30 and 50 per cent.
and other stakeholders have been touting the
importance of technology for many years, but Project Isizwe has worked in this space In closing, MTN’s O’Sullivan states that the
the COVID-19 crisis has now put this starkly through its No Child Le Behind initiative, pandemic will hopefully see the online learning
into perspective. “Over the years, there has in partnership with Vodacom. “During the revolution starting to come of age.
long been acknowledgement of promoting lockdown, we gave SIM cards to children who
online learning and giving learners access to didn’t have internet at home. e teachers “ e pandemic has compelled us all to
connectivity to be prepared for the future. All formed WhatsApp groups and acted as admins think critically, problem-solve, be creative,
of a sudden this crisis struck, and it highlighted over a mini virtual classroom environment. communicate, collaborate, and be more agile.
how slow this process has actually been.” It is revealing that there is ‘another way’ of
is is a very simple solution, which can doing things. e question now is not whether
She says that although government alert students to their tasks for the day, education will default back to pre-COVID-19,
departments and schools o en have strong connect them to videos to watch and create but rather to what extent technology solutions,
intentions to implement these solutions, a communication channel between parents, like digitised content, will play when we come
budgetary restrictions are a major hurdle. learners and teachers,” atcher says. out on the other side,” O’Sullivan concludes. ■

“Decision-making about budgets will always
determine how quickly or slowly something
happens. Unfortunately, with a school
having to pay for essentials such as water
and electricity, teachers’ salaries and basic
infrastructure development, there is o en very
little budget le for technology.”

While government departments have long
promised devices such as tablets to students



Can small businesses be the answer to an economic Phitidis

turnaround for SA? By Trevor Crighton competitors. And, of the remaining 60 to
70 per cent, 8 out of 10 won’t have made the
“E ntrepreneurship isn’t a job, it’s a adjustments necessary to sustain business in
mindset,” says Aurik Investment a post-pandemic world.
Holdings CEO Pavlo Phitidis.
“You could look at it as a skill, Hosking says that the crisis will create a
but it starts with a mindset. unique set of conditions that can be capitalised
An entrepreneur is someone who can see an on with the right mindset. “Pandemics tend
ine ciency or a problem and who can gure to enable new categories of business and
out a way to solve it, through action”. accelerate innovation through an urgency to
Phitidis believes that entrepreneurship will be
an even more important part of both the South nd new solutions. If the products and services
African and global economy, post-COVID-19 that emerge are in high demand, they can
because, by his de nition, the pandemic has become the basis of sustainable businesses in
delivered new problems that need to be solved. the future,” she explains.
“You can adopt two mindsets around the
pandemic – either that it’s really harmed your ACCESS TO FUNDING
work, or that it’s created opportunity for you,”
he says. Speaking to the various stimulus packages
Miranda Hosking, director for the that government announced to support
Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) businesses under and post-lockdown,
Entrepreneurship Development Academy, Hosking says there’s a fair amount of money
says that driving entrepreneurship is going to be thrown around, but the next step is to
to be key to rebuilding the economy. “Over Miranda address the administrative processes around
the past few years, government and the public Hosking those packages to enable ease of access. “One
of the huge challenges for small businesses
and private sectors have increasingly looked of skills increasingly drives businesses to and entrepreneurs is access to funding. e
to entrepreneurship as a potential solution administrative processes are hampering the
to unemployment. Small businesses in South digitisation, automation and mechanisation. good intention of providing relief,” she says.
Africa contribute 60 per cent of the jobs in the “Ironically, that makes our businesses more
country, so I think that, beyond the potential globally relevant, but not locally e ective”. Phitidis says that there are smart investors
for entrepreneurs to facilitate self-employment, He says that when the government says out there with money to spend, post-pandemic,
there’s a multiplier e ect that creates a large businesses should prioritise employment so accessing funds won’t be a challenge for
number of jobs”. over technological advancement, it forces adequately evolved and prepared businesses.
Phitidis questions whether skills really people with the capability and mindset to, “ e same thing rings true for pre- and post-
matter in the entrepreneurial space. “ e for example, build and launch rockets from COVID economies: show someone what sets
dearth of skills in South Africa means that foreign soil. He adds that businesses that have your idea apart, support your thesis with
our businesses are designed di erently to taken advantage of lockdown conditions to evidence and illustrate how you’ll maintain
elsewhere in the world. ey’re designed to reshape their o erings will nd themselves in your competitive advantage, and you’ll always
accommodate a lack of skills – and that lack an environment with 30 to 40 per cent fewer have access to funding,” he says.

THAT IT’S REALLY HARMED YOUR WORK, OR THAT IT’S CREATED how education needs to change, what SME
OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU.” — PAVLO PHITIDIS support needs to look like and where we
should be supporting entrepreneurial ventures
to drive the start-up culture and give these
ventures the best possible chance of survival,”
Hosking concludes. ■



Sunday Times Sunday Times
Celebrating Women Celebrating Women

is inserted into selected distribution includes the
Sunday Times subscriber Business Engage member
copies nationally. base, the 30% Club, The
International Women’s
Forum South Africa as well
as the African Women
Chartered Accountants
(AWCA) member base.
The Department of
International Relations &
Co-operation will distribute
copies of Celebrating
Women to South African
embassies worldwide.

Sunday Times Celebrating Women

will be showcased for 12 months on the
Business Media Mags website.

Visit us on
Project Manager – Jeanette Nicholson

Tel: +27 21 469 2566 | Cell: +27 73 179 2196 | Email: [email protected]


An IBM study showed that in
the best-performing global
companies, 84 per cent of
employees are receiving the
training they need. In the
worst-performing companies,

just 16 per cent of staff
members said they had
access to the training

they require.

Careers are no longer linear and continuous learning is an
essential part of modern company culture, writes Delia du Toit

T he workplace is changing drastically Abdullah at the South African Institute of Chartered IMAGES: SUPPLIED
and continuous learning throughout Verachia Accountants (SAICA), says the pandemic
one’s career is becoming essential. is has also brought myriad opportunities for
was true long before the pandemic hit. accelerated this. Companies of all sizes are education, training and personal development.
In 2018, the World Economic Forum being forced to reinvent their learning strategy, “ ere are now opportunities to learn online
estimated that 54 per cent of all employees will infrastructure and employee experience like anytime, anywhere and any place, with many
have to upskill and reskill considerably by 2022. never before.” free o erings.”

Experts predict that this trend will only Azvir Rampursad, corporate partnerships NEXT STEPS
intensify post-pandemic as economic pressure manager and a specialist in talent strategy
forces people to seek new or additional income and leadership development at the UCT GSB, Essentially, says Verachia, the reset button has
streams and companies to adapt to consumers’ adds that adaptability is now one of the most been pushed, requiring a reimagining of the
changing needs. important characteristics that industry leaders future of learning and work. “ ere has been a
look for in new employees. “ e skills you have in shi in so many sectors, requiring a whole new
Abdullah Verachia, CEO of strategy consulting your bag on graduation day are almost certainly set of skills with digital abilities at their core. We
rm e Strategists and faculty member at e going to be outdated – and rather quickly at now have a blank canvas and time will tell which
University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of that. Graduates today need to prepare not for a skills will be needed to paint it. Staying ahead of
Business Science (GIBS), says the traditional work traditional career path as much as a portfolio the curve will require adaptability and exibility.”
model – getting one degree and staying on that
path for the rest of one’s life – is no longer valid. career, which means that e pandemic has, however, further
“Today’s workplace requires a multidisciplinary they will hold a multitude highlighted the inequalities in South African
set of skills. Traditionally, workers acquired a of jobs in di erent contexts society and these issues need to be addressed
deep understanding of one subject or skill. Now, and will be expected to before all else, says Olivier. “Poor and
branching out with di erent skills is the norm.” evolve and develop while disadvantaged communities are less likely to
Such continuous upskilling, he adds, will be on the job. Hand in hand have access to the right learning environment,
even more important post-pandemic. with this, individuals and devices, data or connectivity and are, therefore,
organisations need to unable to take advantage of the new learning and
DISRUPTIVE TIMES cultivate learning agility – a development opportunities. Government must
willingness to learn from be held accountable for providing places of
Kumeshnee West, director of executive education whatever situation one is in.” learning with the right
at the University of resources to enable the
Cape Town’s Graduate Mandi Olivier, senior e ective delivery of
School of Business executive of pre-quali cation online learning.”
(UCT GSB), says there professional development
is no doubt that we are Collaboration will
living in disruptive also be key, says West.
times. “Even before the “Educators supply
pandemic, automation, industry with critical
digital technology and skills, and industry has
the rise of contingent a hand in shaping the
labour were just some talent pool and informing
of the forces disrupting educational institutions of the IMAGES: XXXXXXX
traditional workplaces, Kumeshnee changes they foresee and
and COVID-19 has West the skills they wish
to develop.” ■




Visit us on
Project Manager – Jeanette Nicholson

Tel: +27 21 469 2566 | Cell: +27 73 179 2196 | Email: [email protected]


HR teams are going to play a pivotal role when companies emerge out of COVID-19, writes Trevor Crighton

“S omehow the ‘human’ aspect of companies adjust to safely doing business, she “ e pandemic has fast-tracked the
human resources has been lost says. “HR practitioners have a responsibility to need to use digital tools to handle routine,
in the wash, and the changes advise CEOs and boards to ensure that good administrative tasks that enable the HR team
in business as a result of the governance is happening and to help them to focus on the strategic contribution. at
COVID-19 pandemic HR teams had to adopt a digital approach is
present an opportunity to regain make good decisions based on the best a blessing in disguise as this was part of the
it,” says Professor Shirley Zinn, available information.” future of work we have been talking about –
who has led human resources (HR) and demanded this approach, in any case,”
functions for numerous major NEW WAYS OF WORKING she says. “ e digital experience is more than
companies and institutions. just using online tools for collaboration, it’s
“Leading with empathy, care, Anja van Beek, agile talent also about how you can implement a virtual
being inspirational, motivational strategist, HR expert and facilitator engagement experience with teams. Humans
and leading in a way that allows for e Human Edge, says that are social beings and crave connection and
people and organisations to when the switch to remote working belonging. Progressive HR teams prioritise
step up to the challenges platforms where they can intentionally engage
we currently face happened nearly overnight at the the remote workforce.”
is going to be start of lockdown, it accelerated
key in a hugely a vital conversation about Zinn says that the overnight switch has
uncertain future.” new ways of working that thrown out the myth that people don’t work
had been going on for
a long time.

with legislators and
regulators to help Shirley Zinn



effectively when management can’t see them “THE DIGITAL EXPERIENCE IS
at their desks. “People have shown they can be MORE THAN JUST USING ONLINE
productive and high-performing, even from TOOLS FOR COLLABORATION,
home, under the right circumstances. Things IT’S ALSO ABOUT HOW YOU
are working differently, and that’s going to give CAN IMPLEMENT A VIRTUAL
rise to a slew of new policies, which take into ENGAGEMENT EXPERIENCE
account amendments to labour legislation, WITH TEAMS.” — ANJA VAN BEEK
particularly around health and safety,” she
says. “Employee wellness has always been aspects like social distancing and wearing face
important, but the new empathetic approach to masks at the office versus highlighting the
human resource management required by the importance for leaders to walk the talk and lead
pandemic has made it vital,” she says. the behaviours required.

images: SUPPLIED Van Beek says that companies are already ADAPTABILITY AND FAIRNESS Anja
moving away from a hierarchal structure van Beek
to a more flexible one which allows them to HR is going to play a vital part in readjusting
respond to change swiftly. “The HR team policies around the way employees are with the overall organisational objective and
might consider how they can add value to the measured and assessed, too. “Employees signed their cadence can be monthly, quarterly, six-
business and not be seen to only implement the contracts with KPIs linked to bonuses and monthly or annually,” she says.
policies relating to the physical safety of the incentives before COVID-19. But, there’s going
employees, but also creating a psychologically to have to be some serious negotiation around Zinn says that employment contracts will
safe work environment for them.” She cites the new matrix in a world where the business has have to change to reflect the new realities of
example of where HR teams update the health had to make many changes,” says Zinn. amended legislation and different categories
and safety policy or disciplinary code around of employment. “Not everyone will be
“How do we effectively manage the permanently employed in the traditional sense
What policies apply performance of people who do not come to – they could be permanent staff, but work
when companies look the office? What new KPIs do we work with in half- or part-time and in a distributed manner
to downsize, redeploy future to ensure we are optimising the ability on different projects, and rotated from one to
workers, or recruit of people to not only perform, but outperform? the next. Effectively, the ‘gig economy’ way of
for specific skills not Are we giving them the right support at home, working is going to become the norm for
needed before? the right support in transitioning back to the many people.”
office and have we been clear and honest about
HR teams need to be innovative to find the matrix they’ll be measured on?” She suggests that there’s going to have to be
a way to look after both the company’s a more personalised approach to employment
and employees’ best interests. The Zinn says that many organisations that terms, bearing in mind what people’s needs
Human Edge’s Anja van Beek says this is haven’t been able to generate revenue under are, how they’re paid, how much leave they
an excellent opportunity for diverse the lockdown are having to have conversations have, how much they’re required to travel, and
cross-functional teams to provide input with employees about how they catch up, the like. “HR needs to drive the integration of
and ideas. “HR teams can source and whether they reset KPIs and the like. “I think all these elements in a way that supports the
build on the collective creativity and don’t a lot of governance elements will come out business strategy with policies and procedures
have to come up with all the solutions around that – you can’t penalise people for to attract and retain staff in a way that creates
by themselves. something beyond their control, so it’s a an enabling business environment, regardless
question of fairness and adaptability. I’d say of where they’re working from,” she says.
“Reskilling is the responsibility of that the future of measurement lies in assessing
any company and should start with a people’s output, rather than completing tasks.” “The old approach where people were either
capability focus and then the upskilling of contractors or permanent staff can’t exist in a
the workforce. Van Beek suggests that objectives and key world where the principles of fairness, equity,
results (OKR) is a more agile approach to transparency and equal pay need to prevail,
“A starting point is for HR teams to measuring performance, where objectives are and HR teams need to help companies adapt to
lead a workforce skills plan and talent the inspirational qualitative description of that,” Zinn concludes. ■
map exercise to establish the shift needed what you want to achieve and key results are
in skills, behaviours, and activities in outcomes you want to achieve; the quantitative
the near future and consider tailored, measure of results that will measure the value
interactive learning journeys for each and impact to your clients or employees.
employee and not employ a generic one- “OKRs are based on tracking data, instead of
size-fits-all solution. Therefore, personal just a data point. OKRs increase alignment
development discussions continue to be
important,” Van Beek says.


Leading digital


Successful digital transformation within an organisation requires
strong leadership, new processes and additional skill sets. The
finance team has a vital role to play in this, writes Pat Semenya

S uccess and failure often alternate Pat Semenya
in the digital transformation of an
organisation. Constantly emerging technology, the organisation has embraced digital Digital transformation experts
disruptive technologies and innovation transformation. e CEO and top management at all levels should be introduced
from competitors not only intensify team of the enterprise should focus on digital
the urgent need for organisations to trends and be adventurous as well as bursting Companies should invest in capabilities
digitally transform, but they also bring some with curiosity. for digital transformation at all levels
uncertainty. The Association of Chartered including the top management team, middle
Certified Accountants (ACCA) joined forces
with Alibaba Cloud to explore how digital The digital transformation of each organisation is closely
transformation impacts organisations in connected with thecharacteristics of the organisation itself.
general and, more specifically, the finance
function. Advances in technology including
5G and the internet of things (IoT) provide
further opportunities for organisations
to transform. 

Drawing on Alibaba Cloud’s experience, we
provide insights into this developing world
and how finance leaders need to approach it.

The digital transformation of each
organisation is closely connected with the
characteristics of the organisation itself. For
example, a retail enterprise focuses on the
improvement of the consumer experience, a
manufacturing business pays attention to the
high level of automation in production and
quality inspection, and financial organisations
apply digital technology to build strong middle
to back offices. But, for most of them, the
experience they have accumulated over the
years can still serve as the reference for their
digital transformation.

Digital transformation is a
top-level design and strategic
decision-making process

e process of digital transformation should
be led and guided by the CEO and the senior
management team. Digital transformation should
not be regarded as a large-scale project, nor should
it be assumed that if the executive layer uses digital

28 S K I L L S D E V E L O P M E N T


management, and grassroots management. The New organisational infrastructure: great uncertainty to the application of technology
business should encourage employees to enhance transform to mobile interconnected office mode in digital transformation.
their digital capabilities and transformational from fixed process.
thinking in different business departments (not • New development pace: transform to Organisations need to continuously improve
just within IT teams). Organisations should appropriately accelerated iterative development their understanding and insight into technology
recognise the value of digital skills and cultivate and cross-boundary competition from a stable and to choose the right partners. Of course, due
the digital expert culture. For example, beyond the and sustainable business model. to the rapid iteration speed, digital technology
management scope, strengthen the promotional or can effectively drive the frequency and speed of
career paths of professional experts, and strengthen The digitalisation of the organisation is the key business innovation.
digital literacy indicators such as digital leadership, to digital transformation Organisations should
digital technology and data insight. establish an agile culture oriented by digitalisation, Flexible technology ecology. For both business
intellectualisation and business innovation to and technology providers, it’s important to build
Data capability is the basis of promote continuous innovation both inside and a more open and collaborative ecosystem. An
digital transformation outside the organisation and to create a digital organisation with an open technology ecology is
innovation ecosystem. The organisation should also able to obtain suitable digital technologies and
Strong data capability is the basic guarantee for the gradually realise an online organisational structure, transform business modes and the technology
successful digital transformation of organisations. online organisational collaboration and a digital value chain.
Its capability in any field (such as data acquisition, organisation, and the digitalisation of human
data summary and data standardisation) resource management, talent supply and Otherwise, organisations are easily locked into
determines the success or failure of digital human investment. any closed technology (or a dominant technology
transformation. Organisations need to: supplier) in digital transformation. This will not
• build a unified data service platform to provide Technology challenges faced only reduce the speed of technical iteration, but
by organisations more importantly, the enterprise may lose the
stable, efficient, and secure universe data services technology choice in digital transformation.
• transfer continuous data energy to various The traditional IT infrastructures have caused
sluggish transformation. While the traditional IT Organisational success is increasingly built
business demanders continue to enable data infrastructures established in the past continuously upon its ability to react to changes in customer
to support digital transformation gradually consumed capital and manpower, there are many demand and behaviour in shorter spaces of time.
establish a global, unified, and general data problems such as poor flexibility, insufficient The need to have a clear view of the data aligned to
system to drive business innovation. supply of resources and limited scale expansion. the purpose and the story that it tells is essential.
These structures cannot meet the requirements for Finance is often unique among organisational
The role of the CFO in digital transformation digital transformation. functions in that it spans all areas of a business.
Having the tools and the skills to answer the
Digital transformation is accompanied by large- Cloud computing is a new way of providing complex question and to model the evolving
scale or continuous technology investment. digital technology services and IT resources. It scenario with a significant element of confidence
The CFO and finance team actively participate enables IT resources to be centrally integrated, are essential.
in investment decision-making, management, quickly configured, and quickly redeployed and
monitoring and service, which can effectively distributed, dramatically increasing the flexibility Finance leaders, therefore, need to take a
reduce investment risk, improve investment effect of enterprise system management or reducing holistic view of transformation across the
and establish good co-operative relationships operating costs (such as saving IT resources). organisation. There is no such thing as finance
between the business team and finance team. For transformation, rather there is organisational
organisations that have experienced this process, The artificial intelligence base is poor. It has transformation of which finance requirements
the finance team has often been an active supporter been proved that artificial intelligence has great are not a insignificant part. It is important to
of new technology investments and the redefinition value in the scenarios of marketing, finance, social understand where technology can be used to
of corporate cost modes. network relationship mining, text processing, commercial advantage. It is also important
unstructured data processing, and other various to understand the impact on the team,
Key features for driving transformation predictive scenarios (prediction of rainfall and their skills and their careers. It changes the
football match results, for example), and is one of dynamics of relationships in the organisation.
Organisations undertaking digital transformation the key technologies in the digital transformation.
should consider having a shadow organisation, Above all, the digitally-inspired leader
which embeds disruptive characteristics, a so-called However, for most enterprises not only is seizes the opportunity and forges ahead. ■
networked liquid organisation. This enables the the artificial intelligence base poor, but they
organisation to optimise its decision-making also need to face the challenge from 0 to 1 (to For more information, on our professional
efficiency and response speed, while activating be complete). Organisations need to establish insights, visit our website
individual values and, ultimately, reaching the in-depth co-operation with artificial intelligence
synchronisation with the change of the external companies or build their artificial intelligence
environment. This organisation should have four capabilities based on mature artificial [email protected]
key features: intelligence infrastructures (such as cloud 0860 02 1010
• New core driving force: transform to a customer- platform for machine learning).

centric “outward-looking” perspective from Uncertainty caused by rapid technology
internal enhancement and focus. iteration. Different from traditional IT, the
• New innovation method: transform continuous high-speed iteration of digital
to collaborative creation and a technology represented by cloud computing, big
diversified and decentralised model from data, IoT, and artificial intelligence has brought
vertical integration and large enterprise-
dominated innovation.

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