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In a sluggish economy and a workplace that is transforming at a speed that can make your head spin, how can entrepreneurs ride out the uncertainty and the changes?

Monique Verduyn

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In the Future Work Skills 2020 report, the Apollo Research Institute found that the future workplace will require ongoing education to master new and emerging skills, and gain knowledge of disciplines outside our own area of expertise.

According to the report, longer lifespans will enable us to experience multiple careers over our working lives. That means adults in their middle and later years will become more common faces at business schools and universities. Staying on top of technology and new media is also critical in a technology-driven world. As clearly stated in the Future Work Skills report, the workers of tomorrow will need to be adaptable, lifelong learners.

Short courses

When it comes to short courses at universities and higher-learning organisations, Professor Amanda Dempsey, Faculty of Economic and Financial Sciences Executive Dean at University of Johannesburg, says it’s important to choose an established organisation. “Avoid fly by night institutions which offer questionable courses. Universities are safe and regulated environments where content is proven and up-to-date.”

She notes that economic development is a much needed area of expertise in the country, which makes courses in finance and accounting very popular.

“Short courses are attractive options for people who are in the workplace and either want to beef up their skills or make a small shift in their careers,” Dempsey says. “It’s important to do some homework and ensure that you know the NQF level of the course you are interested in. There is no point doing a course which is at NQF level 4 when you already have a university degree, for instance.”

She also advises prospective students to be aware of the demands of their work environment. “You may have the best of intentions, but if you cannot come to class or complete your assignments on time because of work demands, you will not be successful.”On the whole, she notes, adult learners are far more likely to succeed than first-time students as they tend to be focused in what they want to do and have a more mature approach to their studies.

Going online

Many working adults who cannot afford to ignore their ongoing professional development, can’t just quit their job and complete a full-time course. Nor do they have time for evening classes. That’s where online learning makes sense.

“Online courses offer all of the benefits of a physical classroom, without the rigid limitations of classroom scheduling and travel requirements,” says Rob Paddock, MD of online education company GetSmarter. “The popularity of online education in South Africa is growing exponentially. Most of our students haven’t studied since they finished University, but once they get started, they find the experience of completing an online course and learning new skills deeply satisfying.”

Paddock says there are significant benefits to going the online route: “You can continue your studies without quitting your job. You can engage in a rich and interactive learning experience with access to a subject expert and a community of fellow learners, and you get access to support and motivation to help keep your studies on track.”

He advises people to seek proof from students who have studied with an online learning provider before signing up. “Make sure you speak to a past student who can give you feedback on the institution’s administrative and academic service. Also, ensure that the provider offers courses which are accredited by a reputable institution.

Working with a coach

Professional coaching focuses on using a person’s strengths to enable them to achieve their goals or overcome challenges. An experienced coach uses tools to get straight to the fundamentals of your success or your problems, instead of trying to cure the symptoms.

“A professional coach will help you to identify which skills to develop,” says Axel Rittershaus, president, Cape Town Chapter, International Coaching Federation. “It does not make sense to develop skills for the wrong reason, which often happens with training. If the real goals and needs are identified, your coach will keep you going towards your goal and help you to improve with every interaction.”

Harry Welby-Cook, head of ActionCOACH SA, says coaching is not a quick fix, but it is an excellent choice for people who feel they may have reached a plateau in their personal development and want to move to the next level. “Our clients have often seen their turnover double or triple following their engagement with a coach. One client achieved 600% growth. A lot depends on how invested you are in the process.”

Coaching is not regulated, so make sure you engage with someone who has an education and a verifiable qualification. “The ICF recommends at least 60 hours of coaching training,” says Rittershaus. “Don’t settle for someone with business experience only, as they will not have coaching know-how.”

He also recommends finding a coach who has ‘real world’ experience in business.

You have to be able to trust your coach. It’s essential to meet with them and get an impression of the person to see if he or she is right for you. “Empathy and trust are critical as you will be sharing information about yourself and answering some tough personal questions,” Rittershaus adds.

Top Tips

Never stop learning
Turn knowledge into experience.

Long-term business success relies on continuous personal growth. Achieving that means being better today than you were yesterday, and being better tomorrow than you are today. A common mistake for many entrepreneurs is that they “just don’t have time” to work on the things that will make them better at what they do. They get caught up in the daily operations of their business and can’t see past that. You may have heard the old saying that some things are urgent and some are important, but few things are both. Many business owners spend their time on the urgent things because their lack of planning and long-term perspective continually creates additional urgent things. Self-education is a good example of something that is extremely important but not at all urgent.

What you must do is immerse yourself in data and make it your goal to absorb and understand that information, turn it into knowledge and then use that knowledge to gain experience. This, of course, is a long-term task, and the main reason most people fail to stay with it is because the feedback loop is so long. It often takes months of hard work before you start to see positive changes — you won’t see the changes as they happen, but you’ll look back one day and be amazed at how much your judgement and business skills have grown. You’ll feel yourself start to think more clearly, you’ll understand more of what you see and hear, and your entrepreneurial vision will become clearer.

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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Think Global, Act Local: Business Education For Disruptors, Innovators And Entrepreneurs

As one of the largest and most prestigious business schools in Africa, JBS is focused on producing visionary leaders and managers who are geared for progress across the continent, but connected to the world at large.

JBS

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Disruption. Innovation. The fourth industrial revolution. These aren’t just platitudes at the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), they’re the bedrock of the various courses and programmes on offer.

“We are authentically African, as we believe there are huge opportunities in both South Africa and Africa at large, but we are also looking at the global landscape. We have an incredible opportunity to educate and mentor the future generation of Africa’s leaders and managers by providing them with the tools they need to be true innovators and disruptors,” says Professor Lyal White, Senior Director of the JBS at the University of Johannesburg.

“Day-to-day business in Africa requires leaders to focus on — and deliver — development with a direct impact on communities. The challenges we face present an opportunity. The fourth industrial revolution requires soft skills and humanism in leading and mentoring for competitive and progressive business performance. This is particularly relevant in Africa.”

Taking on a new era

The JBS believes it has an important role to play in future-proofing Africa and her leaders, and is building programmes and a professional teaching staff with this specific goal in mind.

“The scope of the fourth industrial revolution is far beyond its digital or information counterparts,” says Professor White.

“It’s a systemic transformation that impacts civil society, governance structures, human identity, economics and manufacturing, while integrating human beings and machines.

“The underlying technologies for this shift are artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud computing, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing.”

JBS sees the humanities as playing a critical role in developing the creative and critical thinking that will be essential ingredients to success in Industry 4.0.

“UJ has the highest concentration of staff with PhDs in AI on our continent and we are more than ready to tackle this new era,” he says.

“At an unprecedented level, the global environment demands innovative business leaders with entrepreneurial spirit and government officials who can lead African businesses to succeed in Africa. With our focus on providing global management thought leadership and deep African insights, JBS prepares students for that role, giving them a critical edge for success.”

Related: The Art Of Storytelling: Johannesburg Business School Launches Its Executive Training Programmes

Depth and creativity

Given the opportunities and challenges presented by doing business on the continent, the JBS is developing and delivering bespoke programmes, designed with a keen focus on depth and creativity.

“We’re taking an alternative approach to the norm while ensuring we deliver on international standards,” says Professor White. “Africa needs world-class business education with a local flavour to develop the management competencies we need and to build excellence. This is the model and approach JBS has taken.

“Fortunately, we attract a great diversity of students who have the drive to succeed, confidence, a strong record of triumph and a burning desire to advance the evolution of business in our society,” he adds.

Bringing world-class education to Africa

“Our offering includes undergraduate diplomas and degrees, postgraduate degrees and programmes, and will soon include a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. On the cards are also online programmes, blended learning and unique contact programmes with delegates from across the continent and partners from around the world.”

JBS as a disruptor in the executive education category has two goals: Designing programmes to match the demand of an emerging market, and reshaping existing programmes to meet the demand of customers as their needs evolve.

“As a late entrant to the business school market, JBS will be agile and adaptable in order to stay relevant and take advantage of the disrupted higher education environment by offering business skills for disruptors,” concludes Professor White.

“Conventional approaches and standard business acumen do not work. Preparing individuals and organisations for this context requires programmes with a difference, which is why we’re including an MBA with a difference in our offering going forward.”

Upcoming Executive education programmes and Masterclasses in 2019:

Programmes:

  • Project Management (26 – 27 Feb)

Become proficient at project management. An essential workplace skill that can boost the impact you have on any organisation.

  • Finance for Non-Financial Managers (4 – 8 Mar)

Expand your overview of financial performance from a commercial perspective across management functions.

  • Storytelling and Creativity (1 – 2 Apr)

The power of the narrative is becoming more recognised across leadership disciplines. Implementing creativity in storytelling will enhance your leadership presence.

  • Negotiation Skills (9 – 10 Apr)

Develop your negotiation skills to create more effective partnerships and better results for your organisation.

Master Classes: 

  • Implementing Strategy (1 Feb)

Delve into the core aspects of implementing strategic deliverables and cascading these across your teams.

  • Coaching and Mentoring Centre of Excellence: Session 1 (7 Feb)

Access a network of leaders and coaches to enhance your personal growth.

  • Marketing Series: Session 1 (13 Feb)

Leverage marketing tools and practices to enhance your clients’ experiences.

  • Generating Shared Value (21 Feb)

Implement practices focussed on business with the purpose to generate sustainable value for your organisation.

  • Innovation Series (12 Mar)

Learn about innovative success stories in the context of industry 4.0 and how to prepare and future-proof your organisation for this digital revolution.

  • HR Series: Session 1 (26 Mar)

The HR Series will address key issues facing HR practitioners with robust debate and suggestions to enhance this function.

For more information and to register please visit our website www.jbs.ac.za or Email us on ExecEd@jbs.ac.za

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English: The Language Of Oppression Or Opportunity?

We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are.

Wits Language School

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Having to communicate professionally in English sometimes strikes fear into the hearts of many South Africans irrespective of their gender, age or business field; the mere thought of presenting to a group of colleagues in English or submitting a report to your manager is daunting and nerve wracking. If you are one of the many, do not be embarrassed; you are in good company.

Despite South Africa’s recognition of 12 official languages and its embracing of multilingualism, English continues to be the dominant language within schools and workplaces and competence is considered a pathway to upward mobility and professional opportunities. While it is evident that one requires good English skills to excel academically and professionally, little attention has been paid to improving the English proficiency of South Africans. This may in part be because English is an official language and it is assumed that all South Africans can speak English well. However, the differences in the type of English one is exposed to and the difference between fluency and accuracy are overlooked.

South Africans are unique; we are multilingual, vibrant and dynamic individuals who utilise a wide variety of linguistic resources when we communicate. It is not odd to find us communicating in multiple languages at the same time; we code switch when we cannot remember the correct English word or when we want to express a thought accurately but cannot find an appropriate English word and we do it effortlessly and automatically. These skills set us apart as innovative language users as we mesh and blend languages in our common goal to communicate accurately.

Related: Knowing The Basics Is Not Good Enough Anymore

Unfortunately, these skills do not hold us in good stead in the workplace where standard and ‘proper’ English is required and suddenly we lose confidence and nerve. We become more conscious of how much we do not know and question what we do know. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by fear when you have to communicate solely in English and are suddenly evaluated against monolingual, Western, middle class norms. Furthermore, it is easy to assume if we incorporate more complex words and use lengthy phrases as well as adopt an American or British accent, our English language skills will suddenly improve. This is a myth; do not believe it!

In order to communicate effectively and appropriately, one needs to be cognisant of the following factors:  the audience, the purpose of the message, the message itself, the grammatical accuracy of the message and the tone of the message. Simply put, one has to ensure that the meaning of the message is always concise and coherent and is phrased in a manner that can be easily understood by the reader or listener.  Secondly, one has to ensure that the grammatical accuracy of the message is maintained; editing and proofreading are essential in order to win the reader’s or listener’s confidence in what you are communicating.

Here at Wits Language School, we are passionate about improving the language skills of South African second language learners and our courses are especially designed to help you improve your English language skills. We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are:

Communicative Grammar Are you interested in improving your editing skills and English grammar knowledge?

Join our Communicative Grammar course.

English Speaking and Pronunciation Do you want to improve your pronunciation and gain more confidence speaking in English?

Join our English Speaking and Pronunciation course.

Business Writing Are you interested in improving your proposal or minutes writing skills?

Join our Business Writing Skills course

Presentation Skills Do you want to give presentations that are dynamic and interesting?

Join our Presentation Skills course.

Report Writing Do you want to write reports that are coherent and well organised?

Join our Report Writing course.

English for Critical Thinking in Business Are you interested in improving your critical thinking skills and becoming a strategic thinker?

Join our Critical Thinking in Business course.

 

Climb the ladder to success and apply today. Applications for 2019 are now open. Wits Language School, changing lives and opening doors.

Read next: Tips To Becoming Fluent

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“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

Wits Language School

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The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education. While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.

Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.

Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.

Related: “Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.

Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.

The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.

Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

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