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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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Vital Stats

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.

Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, offers selected undergraduate degrees, as well as a wide range of short certificate courses. Evening classes make all qualifications accessible to working people and busy entrepreneurs. Wits Plus also offers a range of online short courses that enable you to study wherever you are. Certificates of Competence are awarded to successful participants for both certificate and online short courses.

Company Posts

Why SA’s Latest Tech Start-up ‘Merge,’ Is Going To Disrupt The Current Entrepreneur And Investment Landscape

Merge aims to level the playing field.

Merge Connect

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In the world that we live in today entrepreneurs and investors are seen as the pioneers of the future. Together, they have the ability to not only shape our current society, but construct a future with endless possibilities. The problem however lies in the process of becoming either one of the two.

The current entrepreneur and investor landscape in South Africa is a bit of an exclusive club. From an entrepreneur point of view, if you don’t have immediate access to a strong personal network then you are immediately at a huge disadvantage. For investors, more often than not there is a minimum net-worth requirement to be able to join an angel network or even be considered as a serious investor. This minimum net-worth figure is usually so high that it excludes thousands of potential investors that can potentially fund or provide mentorship to entrepreneurs.

Merge aims to level the playing field.

“There are so many people in South Africa with access to capital or who can be great mentors through skills transfer. These individuals can contribute to the growth of entrepreneurship but many of them have not considered investing into entrepreneurs as they haven’t had the access to do so. Entrepreneurs and investors can contribute heavily to the economy but we want to encourage and facilitate inclusive economic growth, giving more people access to opportunities.” – Christopher Watt-Pringle, Investor and Operations Director at Merge

What is Merge?

Merge is South Africa’s latest app and web-based platform where entrepreneurs and investors meet online. Think of it as on online version of the popular television series; ‘Shark Tank’, or ‘Dragons Den’, where entrepreneurs get the chance to engage with investors to potentially secure funding or mentorship for their venture.

How Does it Work?

Much like ‘Tinder’ where there needs to be a mutual interest from both parties; entrepreneurs can add their venture to the Merge platform and then immediately scroll through a network of investors. Once they identify the right investor they can send them a ‘Merge request’.

Investors also create a profile, either as a private or corporate investor. After completing their profile, they too are able to immediately scroll through all ventures until they identify an opportunity that suits their investment portfolio. Once they have done this they will also send a ‘Merge request’ to the entrepreneur. If there is a mutual interest, both parties will receive a notification whereby they will be taken to the Merge chat feature known as the ‘Boardroom’ in order to take the discussions further.

“A lot of existing ways to find funding are very one dimensional. Normally the entrepreneur will find a website, fill out a long application form and sit and wait for someone to reply to them via email (if they’re lucky). We designed Merge to be social and more community-based for easier two way communication between investors and entrepreneurs. Being an app-based platform was also important in terms of increasing usage and making the exercise of seeking investment a frictionless daily routine with faster feedback loops” – Christopher Peters, Investor and UX Director at Merge 

Related: Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

Who Can use Merge?

All entrepreneurs are encouraged to join Merge should they be seeking investment or want to grow their business through mentorship. Merge’s aim is not to replace current avenues where entrepreneurs can find investment, it is to use technology to accelerate the process for both parties.

“We intend to work with existing capital investment firms and investor networks to ensure that there is a strong investor presence on the platform. It’s important to have credible investors on the platform to increase the chances of success for entrepreneurs, so we will have a strong focus on nurturing these relationships and forming strategic partnerships” – Brandon Bate, Co-founder of Merge 

What About the Protection of User Information?

“Protecting the interests of the entrepreneurs and investors on Merge is our number one priority. We have designed some specific features to protect information and make entrepreneurs feel comfortable with sharing their ideas on the platform. We also want to make sure we protect the investors and make Merge a safe place to for them to find investment opportunities. One example of this is in the ‘Boardroom’ where before engaging in discussion, both parties have to sign a mutual NDA in the app” – Zander Matthee, Co-founder of Merge 

Watch the video for more features:

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Company Posts

20 Years Strong: How Birchwood Continues To Grow As A Conferencing And Accommodation Giant

Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre celebrates 20 years of hospitality excellence. We look at how Birchwood has continued to maintain and expand its impressive offering.

Birchwood

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As we approach the end of an incredible two years for The Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre – a hospitality hub minutes from OR Tambo – Kevin Clarence and his team never cease to observe and pursue measures to further enhance this award-winning, unique and incredible product offering.

20 Years of hospitality excellence

To say that it has been a successful two years for Birchwood is an understatement. 2018 marked twenty years in hospitality for the conferencing and accommodation giant, and the property and product offering has never been as impressive, vast and varied as it currently is today.

Birchwood has listened to client feedback and adapted, updated and renovated the facility to cater for every market and any specification ranging from the individual business traveler, all the way to the larger conference group.

“We would not have reached this twenty-year milestone without the support and loyalty of our client base, and producing this upgraded product offering is our way of saying thank you,” says Director and Founder of Birchwood Hotel, Kevin Clarence.

8 Impressive and versatile conference venues

birchwood-embedded

The latest enhancement is Birchwood’s newly re-opened Domestic Centre. Located conveniently adjacent to the hotel’s Main Reception, and very close to the BC Café (named after Birchwood’s late co-founder, Brian Clarence) as well as the Business Centre and shuttle pick-up point, for free trips to and from OR Tambo and the East Rand Mall, the Domestic Centre is home to eight impressive and versatile conference venues.

 

These venues, set among the beautiful aesthetics of the Centre, house capacities that range from an intimate boardroom of ten, to a larger group of up to 300 in a cinema-style seating arrangement.

The new visuals and decor in each venue are only the beginning. Birchwood’s ‘Relax, Do Business’ ethos is exemplified in the Centre’s lobby that has an abundance of comfortable seating options to catch up on your emails or browse the Internet using Birchwood’s new WiFi connectivity infrastructure.

Free, fast and world-class Internet access

“We know the importance of staying connected, whether in your conference or outside of it. It’s no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” says Clarence. More than a million rand has been invested in creating and offering an unrivalled Internet facility, which is now free, fast and world-class.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

“Birchwood is nowhere near the beach, but we’ve got the best surf,” says Digital Marketing Manager, Greg Hoffmann. The free offering is more than capable of allowing for a seamless browsing, social media or general use experience, but Birchwood can also offer dedicated conference WiFi packages, giving groups their very own network tailor-tailor-made to their needs.

Keep your brand front and centre

Take your conference a step further by making use of the digital signage options outside your venue. Showcase key information to your delegates when they arrive, or keep it simple by ensuring your logo prominent. It’s just another way that Birchwood allows you to augment your conference experience, and impress your group.

Come see us in action – a free shuttle and drink’s on us

It’s doesn’t end there. The paradigm of dining in the same venue for breakfast, lunch and dinner is unacceptable in Birchwood’s book. Stay for a multi-day conference or accommodation experience, and you could enjoy a different dining venue every single day.

Every one of Birchwood’s five restaurants carries a different theme and feel, as well as menu. From the modern, yet rustic Boma — a palatial, semi-outdoor venue with a tapas menu and stunning water feature — all the way to a formal steakhouse with a legendary wine selection, at The Grill at OneTwenty.

Add the renowned Mangwanani Spa and pool area, as well as Hotspot Bar — a sports fan’s dream with fresh draughts and cinematic screens, and you truly have a hub that is unmatched in Southern Africa.

“It’s incredibly important to us, that your board members don’t become ‘bored’ members,” says Clarence. “Why not jump on to our free shuttle from OR Tambo, after enjoying a free coffee at our Airport Waiting Lounge, and allow us to show you why there is simply nothing like Birchwood.”

Related: 5 Key Areas Pratley Are Using For Current And Future Growth

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Company Posts

How Medical Savings Accounts Are Changing – For The Better

By Jeremy Yatt, Principal Officer of Fedhealth

Fedhealth

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The concept of medical savings accounts (MSA) emerged in the industry in the early 1990s, reputedly when Discovery founder Adrian Gore was working at Liberty. At that time medical scheme benefits for different kinds of day-to-day healthcare were specified, so for example, you’d get a certain amount of Rands to spend on your over-the-counter medicine, or for optometry services. But this was problematic, as people’s daily medical needs are all so different. So, you’d have medical aid members calling their medical schemes saying, “I haven’t used my spectacle limit this year, so can I transfer it to use on medication instead?”.

The idea for MSAs was to pool these separate benefits into a total Rand amount, that you could then spend how you wanted, and more importantly, retain if you didn’t use them all. Initially, medical schemes were reluctant to follow this idea, as they thought it would lead to under-servicing: medical aid members might be unwilling to spend their savings, and so might not get the proper day-to-day medical attention until it became a crisis and they were hospitalised. However this was not the case, and MSAs proved very popular.

At first, there was no real limit on how much of your contributions as a member could go into your MSA, so most schemes allocated around 40-50%. Many schemes also pushed major medical procedures like MRI scans into savings, which was effectively a way of forcing members to self-fund these costly medical expenses. As a result, the Medical Schemes Act was amended in 1998 to impose a 25% limit on the benefits that could be put into MSAs, which largely forced the schemes to be responsible for these major costs.

Related: Why Your Employees’ Health Is Your SME’s Wealth

Under the previous structure there was no disincentive not to use your benefits, particularly as they didn’t roll over from year to year like Medical Savings do. It was therefore not uncommon for a call centre to get queries from members asking how much was available in their different benefit areas, so that they could make sure they used them all up.

MSAs solved these sorts of problems by giving medical aid members increased convenience and autonomy, which is why schemes have been using them for the past 20+ years.

The concept of an MSA isn’t far removed from a loan. Like a loan, an MSA lets you use a sum of money when you want to, but you still have to pay for it regardless of whether you use it or not. It forms part of the registered gross contribution to the medical scheme. Take the example of a member who has R12 000 they can access in their MSA each year. Effectively they are paying for this “loan”, contributing R1000 a month, starting in January. However an MSA means they can use all of that R12 000 upfront, such as if they need expensive dental treatment (crowns etc.) at the start of February that costs R12 000.

In this situation, the member has only paid for R1000 worth of that R12 000 “loan” (with their January contribution), so they effectively “owe” the medical scheme R11 000, which they then pay off over the remainder of the year. If the member left the scheme straight after their dental work, the scheme would then contact the member to repay the R11 000, as they still owe that amount.

Related: Is There A Link Between Physical And Financial Wellness?

The concept of giving members access to medical financing led us to develop our new MediVault offering for day-to-day medical expenses. Describing it as a loan holds negative connotations for some, but it’s not that different from the concept of an MSA: in fact, we see the MediVault as a natural evolution. All it means is that you won’t need to pay for day-to-day savings upfront. Instead, you’ll be allocated money for these everyday medical expenses in your personal MediVault and, once you’ve taken the money out, you only have to pay it back over a period of 12 months – completely interest-free. This is a far better option than taking out an expensive loan from a traditional loan company, or getting it from an unscrupulous loan shark.

Our MediVault offering is not at all about loaning funds to people irresponsibly. We’re not creating a monster that’s going to indebt you – we’re just changing the way you can access funds for your healthcare. After all, health is everyone’s most worthwhile investment, and we want to give people the flexibility to make it their top priority.

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