Tuesday, 18 December 2012

What does Mangaung mean for Skills Development?

Inspired by Andile Khumalo who wrote a great article titled “What does Mangaung mean to Entrepreneurs”. I thought I would also investigate the following: What does Mangaung mean for Skills Development?
In his political report delivered on Sunday, 16 December 2012 at the ANC 53rd National Conference, President Jacob Zuma referred extensively to the National Development Plan (NDP), which is essentially South Africa’s vision for 2030. In my quest to assess what Mangaung would mean for Skills Development I then endeavoured to read this long but very important document which I doubt many people have even bothered to browse through. While the achievement of the objectives of the National Development Plan requires progress on a broad front, three priorities stand out:

1.       Raising employment through faster economic growth
2.       Improving the quality of education, skills development and innovation and
3.       Building the capability of the state to play a developmental, transformative role.

I was actually amazed at how thorough the NDP is regarding the issue of skills development, particularly for young people. Amongst others, the NDP purports:

South Africa has an urbanising, youthful population. This presents an opportunity to boost economic growth, increase employment and reduce poverty. The Commission, recognising that young people bear the brunt of unemployment, has adopted a “youth lens” in preparing its proposals, which include:

·         Improve the school system, including increasing the number of students achieving above 50 percent in literacy and mathematics, increasing learner retention rates to 90 percent and bolstering teacher training.
·         Strengthen youth service programmes and introduce new, community-based programmes to offer young people life-skills training, entrepreneurship training and opportunities to participate in community development programmes.
·         Strengthen and expand the number of FET colleges to increase the participation rate to 25 percent.
·         Increase the graduation rate of FET colleges to 75 percent.
·         Provide full funding assistance covering tuition, books, accommodation and living allowance to students from poor families.
·         Develop community safety centres to prevent crime and include youth in these initiatives.
·         A tax incentive to employers to reduce the initial cost of hiring young labour-market entrants.
·         A subsidy to the placement sector to identify, prepare and place matric graduates into work. The subsidy will be paid upon successful placement.
·         Expand Learnerships and make training vouchers directly available to job seekers.
·         A formalised graduate recruitment scheme for the public service to attract highly skilled people.
·         Expand the role of state-owned enterprises in training artisans and technical professionals.

Unlike Andile who managed to find some gaps in the policy documents of the ANC with regards to Entrepreneurship; I am totally impressed with the thoroughness of the NDP in addressing the skills challenges in the country.

There’s only one problem: most of the delegates at Mangaung are less interested in policy discussions, including the NDP, as they are in the leadership race. In fact even the President and the cabinet did not speak much about the NDP until now at the opening of the National Conference of the ANC. I therefore propose Mr. President that after all the excitement of the conference; we go back to the National Development Plan and implement this great vision.

I know the President reads my blog so I will be waiting for your call, Mr. President.


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

No, it is not about who you know; networking is overrated

I have often argued that in looking for a job, networking is overrated. How often have you and I heard someone saying “it is not about what you know but about who you know”? Really, is this a fact or myth? How many of us are in the jobs we are in because we knew someone and we are employed in these jobs because of this person that we know? My guess is that most of us applied for these jobs in a normal way, we were interviewed, maybe did some psychometric assessments and we were the ideal candidates and therefore were offered these jobs.
I think those who purport this view that it is about “who you know” are being economical with the truth. Most people study hard to develop themselves, work hard in their current jobs and apply for jobs and are offered these jobs predominantly based on merit. A study by Lombardo, Michael M. and Robert W. Eichinger shows that only 20% of someone’s career progression can be attributable to networking.
I would contend that people advance in the careers because they have a deliberate attempt to acquire all the different types of knowledge, namely:
•Learned Knowledge
ü  From universities, courses, books, …etc
•Activity Knowledge
ü  Learn by doing
•Modelling Knowledge
ü  Learn what successful people do!
•Teaching Knowledge
ü  Mastery that comes through teaching others
In his book, Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferazziv talks about the kind of networking that I agree with and here are a few points from that book:
·         Networking and meeting people should not be about getting something but instead about how you can help someone else
·         Relationships are the lifeblood of our happiness and success
·         You will experience greater success focusing on doing things for others than one could ever have only focusing on themselves
·         People like people who are like them or who are like who they want to be
·         You can never have enough friends or know enough people
·         People do business with people they like
·         Often times meeting someone or getting something simply requires that you ask—something very few people find the courage to do
·         You must stand out and be memorable
These points are not about play golf with someone because you hope they will give you a job but they are about building genuine relationships. As a consequence of building good, genuine relationships and concurrently improving one’s skills and experience career progression will come but definitely not solely from “knowing the right person”.
One friend of mine who is a Relationship Manager by profession does this very well. He is my friend, he is willing to do a lot for people without expecting anything from them and therefore we all would like a chance to help him with something but he got to where he is by being a competent, effective Relationship Manager not because he simply knew somebody.
Please engage me should you disagree with me.
Siphiwe Moyo

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

I don’t know any unemployed Artisans!

As a Learning Specialist, my heart bleeds every time I hear of a young person spending their parent’s hard-earned money to register for some course at one of those dodgy colleges based in the CBD of Johannesburg or in any of the major cities of South Africa. These flight-by-nights who are not accredited by the Council of Higher Education (CHE) or any of the relevant accreditation bodies have stolen people’s dreams and shattered the hopes of countless, gullible young people.
Why is it more attractive for young people to study at these institutions instead of Further Education & Training (FET) colleges which are a reputable alternative to Universities and Universities of Technology? In my view the answer lies in the madness that happened around 2003 when suddenly Apprenticeships were regarded as “uncool”.
I can still remember the day vividly when I was a delegate at the National Skills Development Conference on 14 October 2003 where the then Minister of Labour, Minister Membathisi Mdladlana presented his opening address at the conference. After erupting in an emotive rendition of the song “Kubi, kubi kubi, siyaya, siyaya, siyaya ePitori” or is it Polokwane or Mangaung, he then proceeded to re-assure delegates that the Apprenticeship system is neither being abolished nor being marginalised in favour of the new buzz word of that time; Learnerships. This re-assurance was however too late because in the many factories across the country, a perception had been created by some that Learnerships were in fact here to replace Apprenticeships.
I know a lot of unemployed people who studied in the colleges I have mentioned above but I have to admit I don’t know any unemployed Artisan. In my circle of friends, associates and business colleagues none of the people who were trade-tested with a “red-seal” as it is known in some circles, is unemployed. The unemployment levels in South Africa would be drastically reduced if more young people would consider being Artisans. In fact Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande’s plans to review FET colleges is welcome and long overdue. Artisan training is a major component of the strategy to reduce unemployment from the current 25% to around 15%.
So young people as you are considering your plans for 2013, please consider getting a Trade, it is cool.
Become an Artisan and forget about all those dodgy colleges in the CBD.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Misguided Hustle

As I was driving back from speaking at the 3rd annual Global Learning Academy conference yesterday, I saw them again; the windscreen-washers at Grayston drive in Sandton. I observed with great curiosity the passion, zeal and hustle that these gentlemen have for what they are doing. On most occasions, they wash a motorists' windscreen before they even get consent for this. After their windscreens have been washed, some drivers frown and not give these guys anything but others due to humiliation rather than goodwill; they offer a few rands as a token for their windscreens being washed. I once asked a few gentlemen how much they make in a good day. Answers vary but like a lazy business person I will resort to an average; R120 on a good day.

In comparing South Africans from people who come from other African countries, I often hear people saying that most unemployed South Africans are lazy; I beg to differ. I often see people in townships spending their full-days guarding cars in shopping centres, waiting for a full-day to push a trolley for a R2 coin, closing potholes in township streets for whatever the motorists can offer, selling cigarettes at traffic lights for the whole day for a meagre R10 net profit per day.

In my view these hustlers are not lazy, they work hard. They have something that this country desperately needs; hustle. I do propose however, that this hustle is misguided. Many of the people of this country have the spirit to hustle (ukuphanda) but this is channelled towards activities that at best help them to survive and at worst are total wastes of time.

Channelled correctly - we have something the world can learn from us; to hustle.