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Ongoing Learning

No Time For Ongoing Learning? Try Online

How do you make time for self-development and ongoing learning? The answer lies in online learning. Enterprises University of Pretoria CEO Deon Herbst explains why.

GG van Rooyen

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Deon Herbst
  • Position: CEO
  • Company: Enterprises University of Pretoria (Pty) Ltd
  • Visit: www.enterprises.up.ac.za

Few people would disagree that ongoing learning is more important than ever, but how does one make time for it? How do you fit studying into an already hectic schedule?

The good news is that upskilling oneself is easier than ever and need not be as time-consuming as you might imagine. Not only is information easier to access than before, but courses are now available that make studying very accessible and achievable, even for busy business people.

Entrepreneur spoke to Enterprises University of Pretoria CEO Deon Herbst about ongoing learning for entrepreneurs.

Related: The 10 Best Online Courses You Can Enroll In Today for R200

Why is continued learning important for entrepreneurs?

New developments are occurring at a rapid rate, technology is evolving and information is becoming more readily available in real-time settings.

With the significant changes that recent years have brought to the career landscape, the responsibility to upskill, empower yourself and build a workforce with ‘future-proof’ skills has shifted to you, the individual, and you need to make sure that your skills are on par with your ambition.

What kind of continued learning is beneficial to entrepreneurship?

Empowering emerging entrepreneurs is a national requirement and key to the sustainability of any enterprise. For example, courses equipping entrepreneurs with supplier development solutions to grow and support SMEs are extremely beneficial.

Big organisations now have the opportunity to invest in the skills development of SMEs, and receive greater incentives for buy-back of goods and services once these suppliers have been upskilled to meet their requirements.

In return, SMEs are able to supply quality goods and services and the right technical skills to create the vital link of empowered suppliers.

Related: 15 Free Online Courses That Are Actually Worth Your Time

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Entrepreneurs are busy people, so how can they continue their learning while still running businesses?

Online learning is flexible and accessible — you can literally access learning programmes anywhere at any time — perfect for on-the-go entrepreneurs.

Many professionals struggle to find the time to attend formal training sessions, but would still like to continue improving their knowledge and skills. Because of this, it is important to find a solution that makes learning as easy and accessible as possible.

For instance, our courses offer integrated online learning environments that optimise global participation. We’ve also recently launched a mobile app that provides a one-stop interactive information service. You can select a course, enrol, pay and track your skills development goals — all on your phone via our app.

What do you consider to be a realistic goal in terms of continued learning?

Take a systematic approach. If you are starting out with a new venture, look at a course that will equip you with skills to start a business and manage it to reach unchartered growth.

If you have a business that has been running for a while, and you realise the need and benefits of using technology for your business, look into a course that will provide you with opportunities to understand technology better and how it can assist you in growing your business.

Can you tell us a bit about the sort of courses that are available for people looking to study while working? What sort of courses would you recommend?

It’s important to offer courses that address the specific needs of an industry. To be truly useful to a professional, a course needs to deal with the specifics of his or her industry.

A professional shouldn’t sign up for some broad, general course, but should instead enrol in something that will meet their immediate workplace needs.

For this reason, we offer a very wide range of courses, from agriculture and food sciences to engineering, law, economics and, of course, business management and entrepreneurship.

Related: 10 Free Online Courses That Can Benefit Every Entrepreneur

What, in your opinion, should be the ultimate goal of any course?

We believe that any offering should translate into increased productivity and enhanced customer service excellence. In order for any course to be worthwhile to the individual enrolled and his or her company, it should offer high-quality, customised and practical solutions that make a real-world difference to day-to-day operations.

Apart from enrolling in study programmes, what other strategies would you suggest for those trying to improve their knowledge?

Never underestimate the importance of solid research. By putting science into practice, it can produce business solutions that translate into increased productivity, enhanced customer service and improved business optimisation.


Remember this

Thanks to the fast-moving pace of the modern business world, ongoing learning is becoming increasingly important. Those who don’t keep themselves at the forefront of development will eventually struggle to compete.  

GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

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Company Posts

Rethinking Learning In The 21st Century

The changing world of work has disrupted the three elements of the traditional ‘career’: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

Wits Plus

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Traditionally the concept of a ‘career’ was considered to include three elements:

  1. A career represented our expertise, our profession, and ultimately our identity.
  2. A career was something that built over time and endured. It gave us the opportunity to progress and advance.
  3. A career gave us financial and psychological rewards. It made life meaningful and paid us enough to live well.

The changing world of work has disrupted all three elements: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

A career can now be as long as 60 years; at the same time, due to rapid advancements in technology and the changes that bring about in the workplace, skill sets can become obsolete in as little as five years.

Increasingly, companies need to rethink the way in which careers are managed and learning opportunities are delivered, and many have already begun to overhaul their career models and L&D (Learning and Development) infrastructure in line with the digital age.

Related: Your Investment In Knowledge

Employees’ learning behaviour is also changing. In the past, employees were able to obtain the skills required for their career early on and as a once-off; now, the career itself is a journey of learning, up-skilling, re-skilling and continuous reinvention to remain relevant and to thrive in the changing world of work.

Older employees who studied at a time where most of one’s learning occurred prior to entering the workplace, find themselves working alongside millennials who place greater value on learning and progression rather than on earning potential as a first priority.

Eighty-three percent of the respondents surveyed in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey say their organisations are shifting to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression.

However, in today’s fast-paced business world, even if companies are restructuring L&D delivery, no one is going to make you engage in a strategy that is essential to your future success – continuous learning. You will have to take the initiative yourself.

Noted self-help expert W. Clement Stone, in his many writings on this topic, recommended that one spends anywhere from a half-hour to two hours a day in study and thinking time. This tireless dedication, combined with an insatiable curiosity, will equip you to excel in the future world of work. What’s more, learning new skills and knowledge can be fun!

The good news for both companies and for employees is that an explosion of high-quality content and digital delivery models offers employees ready access to continuous learning. The Wits DigitalCampus offers a range of accredited and fully online short courses to support your continuous learning.

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Company Posts

Your Investment In Knowledge

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

Wits Plus

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Most people spend their lives collecting, spending, and worrying about money — so much so, in fact, that they say they “don’t have time” to learn something new.

However, some of smartest and busiest people in the world — Barack Obama, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates — all spend at least one hour a day on deliberate learning. They see what others don’t: That learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. As Benjamin Franklin said long ago, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

One of the very benefits of ongoing technological advances is that it empowers an accelerated and personalised learning experience that puts the learner in the driver’s seat. Modern learning harnesses the speed, power and ubiquity of digital capability. Online platforms, software and mobile devices means that the traditional hurdles to learning — such as income, status and location — have just about disappeared. Knowledge can now be gained by anyone with the passion to pursue it and the commitment to stick with it.

Related: Building Customer Relationships

We are only at the tipping point of what future learning technology can deliver. Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform all aspects of human capital management, including learning. Technology-enabled learning will be immediate and directly relevant to the task, for example:

  • personally tailored learning content and experiences delivered to you as and when you want or need them
  • chatbots and virtual assistants can source and categorise the information that you need for optimal decision-making
  • augmented and virtual reality simulations can provide a multi-sensory experience to speed up and embed learning.

Additionally, social connectivity already enables user-generated content to outpace and outstrip what traditional education and learning institutions can deliver.

Knowledge may be the new money but, unlike money, you don’t lose it when you use knowledge or give it away. Transferring knowledge anywhere in the world is free and instant. It’s fun to acquire and it makes your brain work better. It helps you think bigger and beyond your circumstances. It puts your life in perspective by essentially helping you live many lives in one life through other people’s experiences and wisdom.

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Entrepreneur Today

How Are South Africans Feeling About The Work Environment?

A new study reveals individual fear that their skills will outdate and a growing need for lifelong learning.

Andrew Johnston

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A research report by MasterStart has found that just 23.8% of working South Africans believe their current skills will keep them employed in ten years’ time. With the burgeoning Fourth Industrial Revolution accelerating the pace of change in the world of work, most South Africans are looking to ‘future-proof’ their careers. And for 95%, lifelong learning is the key to retaining relevancy.

Related: 15 Of The Best And Most Unusual Online Courses For Entrepreneurs

Based on a survey with a sample group of over 1000 people across varying demographics and industries, the MasterStart South African Workforce Barometer uncovered that – while artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) are on the radar – other factors are currently seen as more immediate factors impacting job retention.

Andrew Johnston, CEO of MasterStart says, “Our workforce is clearly concerned, but positively, our research revealed that people are aware that frequent upskilling and reskilling will aid them in remaining relevant and employable.

In a country where unemployment is an ongoing issue, it’s imperative that we empower people to future-proof their careers by making lifelong learning opportunities continuously accessible in order to bridge critical capability gaps and compete with global standards.”

Some pivotal findings in the report included:

  1. It’s tough out there: 80% of the sample believed the job market to be tougher now than it was ten years ago. People in media and marketing especially agreed with this (92.9%), along with those in the manufacturing (87.9%) and financial services (87%) industries.
  2. Why’s it perceived as so tough? Both macro and micro factors were listed, including the political and economic climate, increased competition, fewer employment opportunities and rapid change.
  3. Age and lack of skills are the biggest barriers: While age was referenced most frequently as a barrier to future employment – especially for those over 50 – in the 18-24 and 25-34 year old brackets, lack of skills was seen as the most prohibiting factor.
  4. People in IT and tech felt most secure about their skills: Collectively, just under half the sample felt they’d been held back by lack of skills. 30% of participants in IT and tech were completely confident their skills would survive the ten year test. Those in other industries were noticeably less secure.
  5. We’re not yet comfortable sharing our workloads with robots: Close to a quarter of respondents felt AI had already impacted their industry, but just under 20% said they were completely comfortable sharing their workload with robots or processes automated by AI. Surprisingly, 18-24 year-olds had the highest level of unease about this.

Lifelong learning is the best way to remain relevant

Whilst the Barometer found a workforce in a somewhat sombre mood, positively, people were putting plans in place to learn further to acquire the skills they need.

It was good to see that 80% of respondents were planning to study in the future, with self-enrichment being the primary motivator (66%), followed by the aspiration to get further and be promoted (54%) and the desire to keep abreast with industry-related changes (41%). 58% of people favoured online learning, and a number had already completed courses.

Johnston says, “This shows a workforce that’s committed to continuously learning the new hard and soft skills that’ll entrench the adaptability required to survive the breakneck pace of the workplace.”

Those that had already studied listed the ‘big gains’ as being:

  • Tangible results: like a salary increase, promotion, skills (to be more marketable), more experience and more opportunities.
  • Higher performance: like better knowledge, keeping up-to-date, better understanding of the way the workplace works, faster completion of tasks, and having to employ fewer people as they had the skills themselves.
  • Better motivation and soft skills: like being better at dealing with people, the ability to explain concepts to clients, and overall improved communication skills.

Johnston concludes, “Given the competitiveness of the market – which will only increase with the rise of automation – having a sought-after skillset is the best way to guarantee ongoing job retention.  This means using learning to get to grips with AI and RPA in order to build efficiencies and one’s overall value-add.”

He says we also need to consider providing alternate adult education programmes to give young people the best chance of gainful employment, “It’s important we make ongoing online learning materials easily accessible in ‘snackable’, bite-sized pieces to make learning easier.”

Lastly, he believes a lot of learning is up to corporates, “Providing ongoing executive-level education grooms great leaders and provides turn-key or customised solutions to bridge big capability gaps to foster greater efficiency, productivity and profitability. Our research shows that South Africans are hungry to learn – so companies that provide this opportunity will have a greater chance of talent retention, and attraction.”

To find out more, access the MasterStart South African Workforce Barometer report here.

 Related: 6 Free Courses That Can Help You Become A Successful Entrepreneur

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