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Opportunity Issue 104

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Opportunity magazine is a niche business-to-business publication that explores various investment opportunities within Southern Africa’s economic sectors. The publication is endorsed by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI).

SKILLS Skills are an

SKILLS Skills are an essential driver of FDI Graeme Williams/Brand SA George Asamani, Managing Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Project Management Institute, interrogates creative responses to finding the project managers the world desperately needs for economies to grow. Countries on either side of the equator compete intensely for foreign direct investment (FDI). It brings much-needed capital for growth and development, including technology transfer and skills. It is also a vote of confidence for the host country. While multinational companies are always on the lookout for the next growth market, their decision to invest is driven by a myriad of interests and strategic reasons, some more important than others. According to Investment Monitor, availability and quality of labour are arguably even more important than cost. Some multinational companies invest abroad as they require higherskilled labour, especially in the pharmaceuticals, electronics and telecommunications industries. When associated with low cost, higher-skilled labour makes certain countries particularly attractive to companies in specific sectors. The quality of labour is fast becoming one of the most critical drivers of FDI, if not the most. Data collected from the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) World Investment Report 2020 and the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report 2019 shows that countries with higher-skilled and better-educated workforces tend to attract more greenfield FDI projects. At the Africa Summit in London, where PMI was joined on a panel by Development Partners International, Diageo and Summa, conversations swirled around the importance of project-management skills. Many commentators on the day were of the opinion that entering a foreign market required more than just a business plan and deep pockets. It involved a strategic process that guides project execution within scope, allocated budgets and on time, an ideal brief for a project manager. The global economy needs 25-million new project professionals by 2030 due to economic growth and development, an increase 42 |

South Africa’s technology-focussed universities are working together to improve the country’s skill levels. PROFILE Technological Higher Education Network South Africa As a consortium of technology-focussed universities, the Technological Higher Education Network South Africa (THENSA) is geared to address the lack of critical skills in South Africa. This is especially important in light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), which will not only change the nature of how we work, but also create a host of new jobs that demand new knowledge and dynamic skills. THENSA’s primary aim is to support the work of its member institutions and advance knowledge-sharing and good practice. The network consists of Full and Associate members located across South Africa, Africa, Europe, the United States of America and Australasia. THENSA strives to promote relevant, impactful and globally-competitive qualifications, skills, research and innovation in partnership with business, industry and research institutes. THENSA has a track record for developing programmes which tackle the absence of critical skills and outputs in South Africa. THENSA’s bespoke PhD, Masters and Supervisory Enhancement Programmes have contributed significantly to giving lecturers the opportunity to acquire their PhDs and grow as academics. This programme, in partnership with the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), and with funding from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), responded to the transformation agenda and the National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, resulting in 70% of its cohort of PhDs being black women academics. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, THENSA developed an Online and Face to Face Entrepreneurship Programme, equipping students with the skills to support business start-ups and new venture creation. These Entrepreneurship Programmes are currently available to the higher education sector. In addition, THENSA developed its Graduate Employability App (GEA), a portal which tracks graduates, provides updates on employment opportunities, allows businesses to select suitable candidates for internships and offers online assistance for the preparation of interviews and CV building. It delivers information to universities about curriculum relevance and challenges students have in industry, ensuring that curricula remain responsive. In 2019, THENSA partnered with MILZET Institute to run a programme that upskills and reskills South Africans in the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) database, specifically in the fields of hairdressing, beauty and nails, real estate and environmental practice. In collaboration with OBREAL-Global Observatory in Spain and six European countries, THENSA, through the Erasmus Plus grant, formed the Higher Education Reform Experts in South Africa (HERESA) within its member institutions. HERESA seeks to develop policy that will improve teaching and learning strategies, Work- Integrated learning (WIL) strategies, Competence-Based Learning (CBL), Curricula for the 4IR and Entrepreneurship Education. At the THENSA International Conference held in South Africa in March 2022, THENSA launched WILSA and became a member of the World Association for Cooperative Education (WACE). The most critical outcome of the THENSA delegation visit to Ireland in 2022 was the discussion of the Tourism Education Gateway Platform (TEG), based on a similar model in Ireland, which THENSA will host for the purpose of upskilling and reskilling tourism personnel, providing them with portable qualifications that will contribute to the professionalisation and internationalisation of the tourism sector. THENSA was delighted to have secured a three-year grant from the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) to build capacity in strategic areas of academic programming and innovation within the public higher-education sector. The purpose of this project is to bolster capacity in the fields of Technology Transfer Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Research Capacity Development and Commercialisation. In October 2019, THENSA, in partnership with Technological Higher Education Association (THEA) in Ireland, established the South Africa- Ireland Research Cluster Programme, involving a select group of their respective member institutions. These clusters focuses in the fields of International Tourism, Research and Training, Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) and Curriculum Development for the 4IR, Agriculture and Food Security, COVID-19 Pandemic Management, Waste Management and the Circular Economy, Space Science, Innovation Hubs and ICT and Biomedical Engineering, Robotics and Advanced Manufacturing. Since the conclusion of this Programme, THENSA is happy to report that the Agriculture and Food Security Cluster has attracted co-funding to conduct a study on low-cost biological treatment of dairy waste water. The Space Science Cluster has submitted a grant on the use of satellite imagery for seaweed farming, and initiated a project aimed at establishing a Space Academy in South Africa which will offer curricula that are co-developed and co-taught by South African and Irish academics and industry experts. Given the tremendous success of the Research Cluster Programme, THENSA has received a second round of funding from the Irish Embassy in South Africa. The new clusters will focus on the Circular Economy Research Innovation Curriculum for the 4IR, Science Parks and Business Units and the continuation of the Tourism Research Cluster. THENSA’s cross-collaborative and inter-organisational approach to building critical skills will not only address our country’s most pressing issues, but set a standard of global excellence and competitiveness that will benefit the lives of all South Africans. Contact: THENSA Office Alma du Toit House, 210 Steve Biko Road, Sunnyside, Pretoria 0002 Tel: +27 12 382 4896 | Email: | Website:

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