History versus Skills

History versus Skills

Can any economy afford to treat education as a social experiment?

The recent announcement by the Minister of Basic Education that History becomes a compulsory school subject does not add any value to prepare the youth for the World of Work.  History may have value to understand legacies, and how to avoid mistakes from the past.  That is why Ortega Y Gasset view history as a repeating system in which past mistakes are played over in a modern setting,

However, in an economy where the critical scarce skills list grows by the minute, one must wonder about the value of history in the school curriculum.  How does history equip the youth to step in and to close the scarce skills gap that South African has been experiencing for a very long time?

Contemporary South Africa needs a Workeracy so that the economy can prosper.  History does not create a Workeracy.  History shapes ideologies and political doctrines.  When abused often enough, it creates series of alternative realities that do not unite nations but that divide nations.  History can be learned, and read about at any time; as and when anyone has an interest to know more about the past.  Acquiring skills to become a self-sufficient contributor to the economy requires the mastery of skills that do not necessarily abide in a history book.

The ability to solve problems, make things and to provide meaningful economic service to others requires language skills, numeracy skills, reasoning skills, and not rote listings of dates and events.

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Alternative Economic Freedoms for the SA Youth

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The South African youth – especially young graduates are indoctrinated with the mantra that there are no jobs.  At the same time, they are told to become entrepreneurs.  Next, the youth is told that entrepreneurship costs a lot of money and that the only way to make money is to spend money.  Fourth, the youth is overloaded with Richard Branson tales and there is a perception that entrepreneurship translates into becoming instant billionaires.

The youth of South Africa has to make sense of all the noise around them.

Growth Institute wants to say to the youth that the days of looking for jobs are over.  The day has dawned in which you have to create your own work.  Young graduates have theoretical skills.  Granted, the skills they acquired during their studies may not be what big name employers want.  However, young graduates may have the right skills mixes to provide valuable services to the rest of the economy.

Gaining practical experience is critical, and if employers are not willing to give young graduates a chance, the young graduate should consider to create his/her own world of work.  Professional bodies recognise some National Diplomas.  Holders of these National Diplomas can get professional status and practice as professionals at levels allowed by professional bodies.

Growth Institute interacts with more than 500 schools in Gauteng each year.  It is significant to see that very few school learners are aware that a National Diploma recognised by professional bodies actually puts them on a path of economic freedom.

A Youth Month is around the corner, Growth Institute is launching a “World of Work” and Innopreneurship drive to inform the youth of alternatives.  The youth is not aware that a National Diploma could be just as valuable as a degree.  That perception is being challenged so that the youth can see possibilities beyond the traditional paradigms.

Coping in a Competitive World

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South Africa’s youth is at a crossroad.  The days that a qualification is a key to the job market are over.

  1. The majority of job adverts require a combination of a diploma or degree and experience, thus a great number of recently qualified youth are automatically barred from entering the job market.
  2. In addition, there is such an oversupply of young people with qualifications that employers can literally cherry pick the best of the best. For example, in the Accounting Profession, the very big firms recruit almost exclusively from the Dean’s List or from Golden Key award recipients.
  3. In addition, the almost draconic labour legislation and pressure from unions cause many employers to make do with what they have.

Growth Institute’s message to the South African youth is to stop looking for jobs but to start looking for work.  A job is a paid position of regular employment that may or may not make a significant difference to the economy.  On the other hand, work is a result driven activity that causes an economy to grow.

Despite the unsustainable “we will care for you” message from the State, the economy must be stimulated through work and not through jobs.  This means that the youth must be taught a new mind-set.  The youth is confused and uninformed about the types of skills and qualifications required to sustain a healthy economy.

The programs offered by Growth Institute are designed to create professionals who can fill the scarce skills gap in a very short time.  These programs are internationally recognised and have the backing of reputable professional bodies.  In addition, independent examination bodies assess the programs offered by the Growth Institute.  Because students are assessed by independent examination bodies that require a minimum pass mark of 60%, the youth and their parents can be assured that there is no such thing as a “free pass” in any of our programs.

Programs recognised by professional bodies also give students the opportunity to become members of such professional bodies and to start their own professional practices.  Professional bodies have different levels of membership associated with different levels of qualifications.  Each membership level gives a practice mandate to the member.  This means that the member is allowed to practice at a specific competency level.

Life-long learning is the essential password to the future sustainability of the South African economy.  This means that a person with a certificate recognised by a professional body has the opportunity to progress to an intermediate diploma and then to an advanced diploma.  All the while, our students can advance their status as members of a professional body – commensurate with their qualification and practical experience and emerging professionals.

As emerging young professionals and entrepreneurs in their own right, Growth Institute’s students are prepared to provide professional services to other entrepreneurs in South Africa.  Entrepreneurs represent more than 90% of all business activity in South Africa and they contribute towards more than 30% of our national GDP.

Why, then would anyone strive to be employed by 2% of the business activity whilst there are so many opportunities to create products and services for the 98% who can benefit from professionals who have passed their professional exams and who have built critical work experience whilst they studied?

A New Look at Professionalism

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For how long will the South African education system perpetuate the myth that a degree is the only pathway to being an educated professional?  Also, in the context of the National Skill Shortage agenda, industry must realise that not all skills gaps can be plugged by throwing degrees at it.

Professional bodies have a legacy going as far back as 1894 when the Institute of Accountants and Auditors founded.  There can be no question that, for the last 122 years, professional bodies have been pioneers in the development of professional and academic standards.  Only one university existed in South Africa prior 1894  (UCT, founded in 1829).

Professional bodies (whether Statutory or Voluntary) should be immensely proud of the fact that they are at the forefront of contributing to people development in South Africa.  Nowhere else is the marriage between theory and practice as clearly developed as is the case with professional bodies.

Considering the fact that professional bodies have relativity high pass mark requirements (60% or higher) for theoretical exams must count in favour of professional bodies as an alternative to the sausage machine approach that is prevalent amongst universities.  Having attended an academic advisory committee meeting at one of the Gauteng universities in the past week, highlighted the fact that industry is reacting against the sausage machine approach that has been the dominant focus of Government since 2000.

The doctrine of “Massification of Education” does not produce thinkers.  It producers parrots – student who cram facts in their heads, regurgitate it in the exam, and who are not able to apply their theoretical knowledge to real world problems.  Most of the education obtained through the programs at professional bodies, require an intermix of theory and the application thereof in the workplace during each study year.

Those who qualify through the professional body exams do not have the luxury of being given extra marks. If the pass mark is 60% and the student obtained a mark of 59.99%, it is still a fail.  This compels industry to consider who to hire at entry level and at even middle management level.  The degreed person that is a 50-percenter, or the professional body diplomat that must pass exams at much higher pass mark?

Another myth is that the National Diploma that could be obtained through the professional body’s exams is an inferior piece of paper.  National Diplomas are registered by SAQA at an NQF Level 6.  Degrees are registered at NQF Level 7.  It cannot be said that the professional body diplomat is forever barred from entering university.  There are programs that allow the professional body diplomat to work towards a degree or towards a post-graduate professional diploma at university.

Granted, that the professional body diplomat may obtain a degree after six to seven years of study.  But then, in the words of Henry Mintzberg, they will be mature enough to recognise the subtle variances in theoretical themes.  The will also be mature enough to apply or restate theories so that it makes the best possible sense for the practical situation that they theory wishes to solve.

Professionalism is not found in a degree.  It is found in the level of knowledge that a student demonstrated in a final exam.

Can industry afford to dismiss the quality of candidates that took the professional bodies’ exams and passed?

Human Rights and Education: What’s Wrong with the Picture?

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The plan that the Minister of Basic Education wants to lower the senior phase (Grade 7, 8 and 9) pass rate[1] is another move to win the “Battle of Ideas” and not to increase the country’s competitiveness.  It is clear that the Minister is out of touch with the sentiment of parents and learners regarding a very sensitive subject.

Growth Institute, like many other public and private tertiary institutions, visits at least 200 schools in Gauteng each year.  The opinion expressed in this piece is a reflection of how parent and learner regard the Minister’s latest plan.

The Minister claims that the new lowering of standards is not meant to encourage learners doing the barest minimum.  However, parents feel that many learners already have a view of “50 percent is a pass and 51% is a distinction”.  In addition, parents are concerned that a mediocre achievement in school closes the door to any post school education.

Learners are concerned that they do not have sufficient admission points to be admitted to any tertiary institution.  If learners are worried about admission points before the planned lowering of standards, how many more will be robbed of a chance once the changes are in effect?

The Minister claims to “align” Grades 7, 8 and 9 with what is already the norm for Grades 10,  11 and 12.  The reality is that low public school standards encourage learners to do the bare minimum.  It does not encourage anyone to do his or her best as the Minister hopes.

Criticism from the SA Democratic Teachers Union against the planned lowering of standards must not be regarded lightly.  It is no longer a case whether public school matriculants are harmed in the end or not.  The high fall out rate of first-years should be a clue to the Minister that the country is dealing with an education system that is systemically ill.

Is the cheapening of the education system not affecting the basic human right to an education that is meaningful and competitive?

[1] https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/education/motshekgas-new-bid-to-lower-pass-mark-in-public-schools-13506082

Hospitality & Tourism Qualifications without Disruptions

Hospitality13Working professionals often find it hard to get a qualification or to upgrade a current qualification.  Work pressures make it difficult to attend classes.

Growth Institute now offers a flexible option to professionals in the Hospitality & Tourism Industry.

  1. We have recognition of prior learning options that takes in consideration experience and prior learning. Students can receive credits for some subjects with minimal administrative effort.
  2. Students receive all learning material in advance, and the get access to an electronic library where they can find additional resources.
  3. Some subjects require only an assignment and others are exam based only.
  4. We offer a seminar-style class intervention that requires students to come to only three lectures before an assignment or exam is due.
  5. Students are registered as members of a professional body and they can earn professional designations from the professional body.
  6. Students have access to international degree programs within the Commonwealth.

All qualifications are assessed and awarded by a professional body.  In addition, qualifications are recognised in major hotel brands and across the Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region.

Call Lynn Duke on 081 702 8022 for an appointment to start your studies today.

OPINION: BLOATED BUREAUCRACY, VAT INCREASES AND THE PLIGHT OF NEAR GRADUATES

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The statements by the Minister of Finance to increase VAT by one per cent from 1 April 2018, has been a worst kept secret.  It is clearly aimed at curbing expenditure in a bloated bureaucracy and it is an attempt to further an agenda of free education to the benefit of some first year students.

The Minister is silent about the plight of near graduates who could contribute to the economy far quicker than first year students would.  It is not a secret that the high fall out rate under first year students has been going on for many years.  It is estimated that that many as 60% of first year students leave campus before the final exams[1].

This high fall out costs the economy billions per year.  In pure business terms, one could refer to the dropout rate as an opportunity cost.  Moreover, no business in the world would tolerate an opportunity cost similar to what is associated with the student dropout rates.

It remains a social injustice to ignore the plight of the near graduate in favour of a first year student who could take as long as six years to complete a three-year qualification.

Government is quick to talk about skills scarcities and how skills development must receive priority attention.  If there is any substance in that view, then the plight of the near graduate must take priority.

During the last few days, it was announced that a life style audit is planned regarding to Government officials.  Such audit makes good sense if it would also focus on culling a bloated bureaucracy as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.

Unfortunately, taxation is an easy way to fund a spendthrift State.  One must wonder how much taxpayers can still take before the proverbial camel’s back is broken.

[1] https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2017-11-20-analysis-a-problem-less-discussed-the-high-cost-of-university-dropouts/#.Wo1rJINubIU