Secure a quality workforce by bridging the education gap

12 Apr, 2018

The fourth industrial revolution is rapidly transforming work as we know it. From interns to top executives, technology continues to challenge industries with evolving job functions and the related qualifications and skillsets. Critical skills shortages are on the rise and a mindshift in training and education is essential to secure a future-proof workforce.

In addition, many South African graduates face a rude awakening when they become job seekers. Despite years of study and promising results, many first-time job seekers discover they lack the relevant skills and practical know-how to hit the ground running. The rapid rate of change also challenges employees to keep up with the latest developments and to embrace a philosophy of life-long learning.

The education-workplace gap
This widening gap can be attributed to a deficient education system, the mismatch of academic qualifications and workplace requirements, an over-reliance on theoretical knowledge, as well as the lack of critical skills development. To address the growing divide, education has to improve in quality and relevance to meet changing workplace demands.

This calls for an integrated and collaborative education model that complements the traditional system with competency-based and on-demand learning rooted in current needs and future trends.

How businesses can bridge the gap
Government and educational institutions are vital stakeholders in addressing unemployment and skills shortages in South Africa. However, in light of industry-specific needs and trends, businesses are optimally positioned to provide experiential training and insights.

Apart from internship programs and guest lectures, here’s how corporates can raise the bar.

  • Collaborative initiatives
    By liaising with universities and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, businesses can keep curriculums up to date and speed up the responsiveness to skills needs. Business can also bring practical experience into the classroom with on-demand skills development projects. This will give academic qualifications more credibility and encourage a competency-based education system.
  • Extracurricular support
    Businesses can provide supplementary training in the form of workshops and clubs to facilitate the organic transfer of skills in an informal environment. This will also afford the opportunity to recruit promising candidates.
  • Mentorship programs
    Education doesn’t stop after varsity and business leaders should encourage the ongoing sharing of knowledge and skills between senior employees and new recruits. Mentorship programs can quickly transfer a diverse set of skills gained from your team’s collective knowledge and experience.
  • Online courses
    Online training platforms such as Google’s Training Centre, Udemy and Lynda.com can help new recruits and established professionals acquire cutting-edge skills that can give businesses a competitive advantage. What’s more, these courses are flexible, cost-effective and can be done at any time.

To secure a stable and qualified pool of future employees, business leaders have to invest more comprehensively in quality and demand-led education. By transferring usable knowledge and skills at every stage of education, corporates can help eradicate the education-workplace gap and contribute to the growth of the South African economy.

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