By Dr Johan Swanepoel
The South African skills landscape changed radically when the various Skills Development Acts were promulgated in the 1990’s. One of the effects was that informal and non-formal training were being recognised as a valued part of skills development.
The choice of training provider got much more complicated and many organisations / employers had the unfortunate experience of sending staff for so called “accredited” training, yet ending up paying for interventions that did not yield the expected results.
Choosing the right training provider is the first step in ensuring that staff are developed optimally. The following questions should be asked:
1. Is the provider accredited?
Accreditation means a high calibre of lecturers and a quality learning experience that will benefit your graduates and company. Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-time Studies at Wits University is a good example of a fully accredited provider which provides courses suited to the professionals looking to upskill themselves.
2. How is the training provider brand regarded?
How well known is the provider? Speak to your network in the industry. Has the provider shown consistent results? Are they relevant and well-established in their field? Do they have depth of expertise that goes beyond what you require?
3. Can we afford it?
Training is often thought of something that can only be done if a business is doing well, but the long-term benefit of training and studying could improve business efficiency and prevent costly business mistakes. Research proven benefits of training and development include:
- Increased productivity, efficiency and financial gains
- Increased leverage of the potential and diversity among employees
- Greater capacity for expansion
- Boosted employee morale and Reduced employee turnover
- Decreased need for supervision
Building a more efficient, effective and highly motivated team, enhances your company's competitive position.
4. Is the training aligned with your requirements?
One of the major obstacles in getting staff trained, is the NOT the direct costs of paying for the training, but rather the issue of absence from work. Distance learning is a popular choice among career professionals. But better models of study exist, ensuring successful learning and better support to professionals.
Dr. Johan Swanepoel, director of Wits Plus, the centre for part-time studies at Wits University, believes part-time studies provide an affordable, flexible approach to studying .
Studying part-time has several advantages over distance learning and full-time studies, such as:
- You can take class in your free time in the evenings or on Saturday mornings, making it accessible to working people who can’t get time off or entrepreneurs who own businesses and can’t afford to stay away from them.
- It offers the opportunity to interact with lecturers on a frequent basis, and to make contact with and network with fellow students.
- The regular contact sessions provided by part-time studies eliminate t he disadvantages of distance learning such as feeling isolated, studying on your own and losing out on contact with students and lecturers.
- More flexible than full-time studies and offer students the opportunity to plan their own programmes.
- Designed for the working, mature person who is looking to improve their qualifications by studying for a full degree or to build expertise by doing a short course. This creates a unique learning environment where learners not only absorb content but share their real-life experiences with fellow students.
- In general, part-time studies are also more affordable than full-time studies.
The Wits Plus model provides all of these benefits.
They offer two degrees on a part-time basis – a BA degree (pure Humanities, majoring in any two of the following: Psychology, Sociology, Political Studies and International Relations), BA (for the world of work, combining a pure Humanities major with any one of the following: HR Management, Marketing or Management) and a B Com degree with the full spectrum of Commerce majors.
Wits Plus also offers a diverse range of accredited short courses, covering topics such as Operations management, Project Management, Logistics and supply-chain management, Labour relations, General management, HR management, Marketing, Law courses, Internal Auditing, Computer Auditing, Corporate Governance and Administration, Corporate Finance and Investment, Insurance and Risk and even specialized courses for the music industry.
A carefully selected menu of on-line courses are also in the process of being developed by Wits Plus. Our model is a sophisticated, integrated delivery where students receive continuous support for the duration of the course. We have achieved exceptional pass rates in all our courses so far. You can now study at Wits, where-ever you are!
Dealing with the challenges of studying
Once the choice of training provider has been made, it is important to find a balance between work, family, studying and social life so that the process is sustainable. When problems arise in other areas of your life, you want an approachable administration that will treat you as a valued client and find supportive ways to retain you.
Training should always form part of your strategy to remain competitive and sustainable and to sharpen your readiness to respond to the marketplace.
And identifying the correct provider, is the first critical step in this process.