Skills Development

Skills Development Summit 2018


In South Africa, skills development is close to the top of the priority board in most private and public organisations. It is a term that is used often, but perhaps not implemented enough. The only surety about skills is that South Africa is in dire need of it, or to be more precise, the country is in dire need of the implementation thereof.

It is not often that one has the opportunity to mix it up with some of the most influential people around on the subject, but I was given this opportunity: to attend the Skills Development Summit 2018.

The two-day event took place on 6 and 7 March 2018 and undoubtedly ranks as one of the top events I’ve attended. The two days were full of intrigue as speakers and attendees alike tackled the crucial issues and areas that face South Africa and her people. Attendees had the opportunity to mingle with the speakers during breaks but more importantly, the audience was given the chance to ask questions, post every speaker’s speech. This allowed for a level of interactivity, which is not often seen at such events.

Often, events, especially those that run over more than just a single day, have the tendency to turn into a bit of a damp squib. However, this was different. The quality of speakers made the difference. One followed the other with intriguing insight into their respective fields and offered solutions to problems, rather than just naming the problems.

Thabang Mashigo, the MC for day one, led the conversation superbly as she connected the speakers and their topics with the attendees. The main topic of the event was “The Fourth Industrial Revolution”, which excited many people, including myself.

What became clearer as time passed was that we can no longer afford to ignore the changing dynamics within our society. This is not a South African issue solely, it is a global issue. Some might run scared and scream about the possibility of job losses in the digital age, while others—those who prove successful—will take the opportunity to create greatness and jobs out of it.

Computers, or robots as some call them, have already taken over jobs people used to do. The general consensus among many of the speakers was that people should start thinking more along entrepreneurial lines rather than relying on others to provide jobs for them. The issue, however, is the education system within the country—it is not really conducive to promoting the entrepreneur within us. This is another change that needs to take place...and fast. The digitalisation of the globe waits for no one.

Other topics were also discussed, but it all came down to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Every sector is affected by it. But while we enter this age, we cannot lose sight of the unskilled people within the country, a country that is still fighting its way through issues caused by many years of oppression.

On day two, agriculture was under the microscope— a very hot topic, considering the press was all over the land expropriation without compensation motion that had just been passed.

Lest I forget, while the Skills Development Summit specifically focuses on skills development and how we can improve it, it also acknowledges those who, through dedication and hard work, have created skills programmes that they and the country can be proud of. These men and women were honoured at the end of the first day through the Achiever Awards evening.

All in all, two days extremely well spent.

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This edition

Issue 68