Thursday 22 August 2013

The Skills Pipeline for Over R 3,6 trillion in Major Infrastructure Projects

Constructing the skills pipeline for over R 3,6 trillion in major infrastructure projects* is going to take a lot more than steel and concrete...

How this blog post is structured - click to enlarge

5 January 20115 update: visit the official SIPs Skills Portal here. Click the "How to Guide.pdf" at that top of it's landing page to find out how to join the site and connect with the Occupational Teams.

 1. Introduction

This post is divided into 8 separate headings as shown above.

Without the necessary skills to plan, construct, operate and maintain them, our Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) will be an expensive exercise in outsourcing work that could otherwise have grown our local skills base and helped to spread wealth more evenly across the economy.
"The massive investment in infrastructure must leave more than just power stations, rail lines, dams and roads. It must industrialise the country, generate skills and boost much needed job creation."
President Zuma, State of the Nation Address, 14 Feb 2012.

Realising the need for a strategic Human Resource Development (HRD) plan for the SIPs, the Dept Higher Education and Training set about in April 2012 methodically gathering the data and developing the methodology to achieve the biggest project-focused learning drive in our country's history.

Their objective was not only to generate skills for the SIPs, but also additional skills through the SIPs, using this massive work project as a catalyst for building South Africa's skills base.

The first public results of this work, the launch of the Occupational Teams, took place at the DBSA Vulindlela Academy in Midrand on 6 August 2013. The thinking behind the Occupational Teams shows an advanced level of understanding of labour market supply and demand dynamics, as well as a grasp of the importance of collaborating across the traditionally divided realms of theory and practice, for the design of learning.

There are 5 key concepts to understanding the Occupational Teams concept:

DHET's Occupational Teams - Key Concepts - click to enlarge

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Ground Breaking New Funding Policy from DHET for Artisan Development

A ground breaking new funding policy for artisan development was launched at Olifantsfontein in Midrand on 11 July 2013. Not only will the policy remove one of the three primary blockages to boosting our artisan skills base as a country, it could also pave the way for streamlining the funding and administration of all our SETA based learning initiatives.
"It is not often that organized labour and employers agree on a policy but it seems that when it comes to artisan development there is definitely one voice."
Deputy Minister Manana at the launch of the "Policy for a Generic National Artisan Learner Grant Funding and Administration System" on 11 July 2013

Government, business and labour want more artisans, so what's the hold-up?


Artisan training is an expensive and time-consuming exercise. It takes anywhere from 2 - 4 years to train an artisan, and it costs between R200,000 to R650,000 depending on the trade. The figure of R300,000 was used as the basis for the development of this new policy.

This makes it hard for small and medium sized employers to train artisans in large numbers, but even large employers can go badly wrong if they take on a large group of artisans and run into funding or administration problems.

Deputy Minister Manana concluding the launch of the policy

Government on the other hand has identified artisan development as a key strategy to boost the manufacturing and engineering components of our economy (which are needed to grow exports), and to support job creation by absorbing school leavers and unemployed people into well-paying jobs. So government needs to get employers to scale up their current artisan training efforts to go well beyond "training for their own need" in order to increase the pool of available artisans for the big Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs).

This is one of the reasons that artisan development is one of the key priorities of the HRD Council. In June last year the Council identified funding and learner administration blockages as one of three key constraints to artisan development (artisan data and artisan RPL are the other two constraints).

For example, until the launch of this new funding policy,  there were 14 different sets of grant criteria for employers across the 21 SETAs, and the National Skills Fund (NSF) also had its own criteria.

If you were successful at getting a grant, you couldn't easily plan ahead, knowing what amount your grant was going to be, as each SETA offered differing amounts. Then even if you did plan ahead successfully and get a grant, you faced the certain uncertainty of knowing that everything would change in the next financial year and you may not be able to complete (or repeat) your artisan training -  because with each new financial year SETAs would adapt their grants to available funding and changes in their strategy.
"We as a country and as individual citizens have become completely confused with the multi sector approach to artisan development and as a result have lost huge knowledge of how a real national artisan system works. This policy helps us to get that national system back in place."
Deputy Minister Manana 11 July 2013 

Wednesday 19 June 2013

SA Board for People Practices: Joburg Breakfast Feedback

The SABPP hosted  its first event of the year two weeks ago in Sandton, arranged by its Gauteng Committee, who used the opportunity to introduce themselves and their targets for the year.

Programme 4 June 2013

The main event of the breakfast session though was the launch of the SABPP HR Standards & Metrics Project, which is a project to reach levels of excellence in South African human resource practice by developing an agreed set of national standards and metrics.

Strangely this is only one of three similar projects in the world, and the SA initiative is leading its Australian, US and Canadian counterparts so we might be the first country in the world to publish a full set of standards for our HR practitioners later this year.

Standardising HR practice could be likened to setting up a "Generally Accepted Accounting Practice" (GAAP) set of standards for HR which would clarify, for example, what exactly is meant by the term "Talent Management" which has almost as many definitions as the letters that make it up. Interestingly Softline VIP Payroll ran an HR conference at the beginning of June in which one of the speakers addressed the same concept ("Standard Integrated People Practice").

The basis of the project was the SA HR Competency Model developed by SABPP with input from over 1,000 local practitioners. There are over 23 HR competency models globally - South Africa is the only one with a competency called, "Citizenship for the Future: Innovation, Technology and Sustainability." The model looks like this:

Click to enlarge

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Minister of Higher Education Budget Speech - Summary & Highlights

The Minister gave his annual Budget Speech on 8 May 2013. You can read the speech in full here. Below is a summary and some selected highlights.


The speech shows the momentum that DHET is gaining in its chosen focus of building the FET and Higher Education systems to give greater access to the poor and to move towards more effective relationship with the country's economic needs. This is a massive task and will probably only bear fruit in 10 - 20 years time at the earliest. Perhaps this is why the Minister mentions 2013 as the 60th anniversary of the Bantu Education Act, and points out that the democratic government has had only 19 years opportunity at reversing the damage of these and other apartheid laws. Given that the majority of this country still live in unacceptable poverty with little hope of improving their lives, and nothing to lose through crime, revolution or anarchy, it is a focus that everyone should support. Employers and industry should still stand up for the importance of workplace training as the DHET is not focusing on what are comparatively well-resourced constituencies at this point.

Upcoming changes

Look out for the upcoming changes mentioned in the budget speech:
  • The change in name of the public FET colleges to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges
  • A new funding framework for the TVET colleges and public adult learning centres that will draw from the Skills Development Levy income
  • A "Policy on the Professional Qualifications for Lecturers in Technical and Vocational Education and Training" will be gazetted next month
  • The establishment of new Community Education and Training (CET) Colleges, absorbing the present Public Adult Learning Centres and providing new offerings to adult learners
  • A new comprehensive university of health and allied sciences in Limpopo
  • A new funding model for the public universities
  • Expansion of the free education approach from the public TVET colleges to the public universities


To simplify reading I have rounded off some figures below. View the full report at the link above if you want the precise numbers

General highlights
  • 2013 marks the 60th Anniversary of the Bantu Education Act which systematically broke down human capital of black South Africans
  • The DHET's budget this year is R34,3 bn, an increase of 8,6% on last year's budget
    • This excludes Skills Development Levy income which was was R11,4 bn last year and is expected to be R12,4 bn this year
  • A million youth leave school every year, looking for entry to the workforce or further study 

Workplace training
  • The DHET has now established a dedicated Unit on Work Integrated Learning Partnerships and Innovation
    • This is headed up by Chief Director Zukile Mvalo who can be contacted on 012 312-5208 or
    • "The unit engages with employers in both the private and public sector as well as with SETAs in order to promote and institutionalise work integrated learning"
  • The new SETA Grant Regulations came into operation on 1 April 2013  - we will be covering the impact of these regulations in a later post on this bog
  • The National Skills Fund is now annually spending what it is receiving in funding (for the first time ever). All of the historic reserves of the Fund (R7 bn) have now been earmarked for spending
    • This expenditure is "for improving infrastructure and programmes for expanding capacity and improving quality in the production of skills in engineering, medical and veterinary sciences, renewable energy, various trades and rural development"

The public FET sector
  • The public FET Colleges are soon to be renamed "Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges"
    • 657,000 youth enrolled in TVET colleges in 2012
    • R17,4 bn set aside this year for the TVET colleges
    • 187,000 of these students financially supported by DHET via NSFAS
    • R2,5 bn set aside for infrastructure expansion and refurbishment of TVET colleges, broken down as follows - 
      • R2 bn for expansion of student enrolments
      • R365,5 mn for building institutional capacity
        • This is directed by the FET College Turnaround Strategy of 2012 which focused on building college capacity in management, governance and leadership, financial management, human resource management, teaching and learning, as well as student support services.
        • It includes a South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) project to appoint 48 Chartered Accountants as Chief Financial Officers at FET Colleges 
        • Another SAICA partnership is the appointment of 20 Human Resources Specialists to support clusters of colleges to set up Human Resource systems, procedures and policies
      • R192 mn for upgrading equipment
    • A ministerial committee will be established to look at the funding of the TVET colleges and public adult learning centres, from sources including the fiscus and the Skills Development Levy
    • FET College staff are now under the authority of DHET (not their provincial governments) since 1 April 2013
      • A Policy on the Professional Qualifications for Lecturers in Technical and Vocational Education and Training will be gazetted next month
    • Community Education and Training (CET) Colleges will be established and will absorb the present Public Adult Learning Centres
      • CET Colleges will have additional facilities and staff and expanded offerings to provide vocational or community oriented programmes to adult learners
      • For more info on the CET Colleges click here to view the report of a task team which made recommendations for the community colleges 

The university sector
  • In the university sector there was a 12% increase in undergrad enrollments, and 11% increase in graduates, a 26% increase in Masters graduates and a 15% increase in Doctoral graduates
    • The two new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape will be legal entities by June and enrol first learners in 2014
    • A new comprehensive university of health and allied sciences, including veterinarian science and dentistry will be established in Limpopo,with Medunsa campus providing the foundation
    • DHET is looking at a fee-free approach to the university sector following its successful application of this approach in the TVET sector
    •  Review of Funding of Universities
      • This is in process and a new model will be presented by the end of this year
      • Universities that fund the poor can expect more funding
    • R575 mn allocated to teaching development grants to boost the number of graduates
    • R205 mn allocated to foundational programmes to improve the success rate of students from disadvantaged educational backgrounds 
    • R177 mn for research development to develop research capabilities of staff
    • R8 bn total investment in university infrastructure during the period up to 2015

Teacher education
  • Teacher education in all sectors (the pre-school, primary, secondary, FET and Universities) is a priority with an increase in teacher graduation shown below:
    • 2008 - 6,000 graduates
    • 2011 - 10,361 graduates
    • 2015 (projected) - 14,000 graduates
  • New teacher education colleges and campuses are being established

The National Students Financial Aid Scheme
  • NSFAS gets R5.7 bn
    • R3.69 bn for loans and bursaries to universities 
    • R1.98 bn for bursaries for TVET Colleges

Below is an embedded version of the speech in PDF format. Click the arrow in the square at the top right of the frame below to open the speech in a bigger window.

Secrecy Bill will strangle information flow - please vote against it now

Update  23 May - the petition has received over 50,000 signatures in two days

The internet has brought a revolution and a renaissance in access to information across the planet, having a special benefit to poorer countries which now have access to information and communication technology to help them leap-frog their development.

However governments (and corporate media) are increasingly acting as if they feel threatened by the rapid transparency and social action that the internet has made possible, and in many countries we are seeing a crackdown on transparency, journalists and whistle-blowers. Even in traditionally strong democracies such as the United States, this trend is visible in the crackdown against Wikileaks, the Associated Press and more recently Fox News. Now in South Africa we are days away from having a Secrecy Bill signed into law by President Zuma. Despite extensive lobbying the Bill still does not include the vital "public interest" clause which would protect journalists and whistle-blowers from 25 years in prison for communicating information that is vital to the "public interest". There is the very real potential here for corruption and incompetency to be removed from public accountability if this Bill becomes law.

Note: - I do agree that the media is in need of greater accountability and transparency. In my view the way to do that is through:
  • professionalisation of journalists and editors (a trend we are seeing across all occupations and professions at the moment)
  • self-regulation through professional bodies (also a growing trend)
  • assistance to new and emerging media organisations
  • strengthening of anti-competitive legislation and oversight of the media
  • not through blanket media laws that limit the public's access to information
The  quality of the decisions we make individually and nationally are based on the quality of the information we have available to us. Please vote against this limitation on the information you will have access to in the future. Why should someone else choose what you can know or not know about? Find more information and vote here.

Here is the body of the text from the Avaaz media flyer:


Dear friends,

At any moment Zuma could sign the Secrecy Bill into law -- one of the worst attacks on democracy and free speech since Apartheid. But we can force him to give the courts a final say, saving our free speech rights from the worst parts of the law.

The President has the power to send controversial bills to the Constitutional Court before they are enacted to make sure they don't violate our most precious freedoms. But he's only going to delay the Secrecy Bill's corrupt protections for his own government if there's a massive nation-wide outcry. We only have days to make sure he hears it.

He's already feeling the heat, but the bill could be signed any day now. Click below to call on Zuma to protect our constitution and follow the law. Then forward this email to everyone:

The Secrecy Bill would be bad news for South Africa. Really bad. Under it, anyone who looks at leaked classified files (like journalists reporting on government graft or everyday citizens accessing them online -- anyone!) could get up to 25 years in jail, regardless of how important the story is to the public. The bill that passed included important revisions, but they fall far short of what's needed: far too many officials still have the power to unaccountably classify documents, and the exemption added for whistleblowers has a major loophole that could make it all but useless in practice. Altogether, the law would be a major roadblock in our ability to uncover and investigate government corruption.

Citizens can bring the Secrecy Bill to court after it's passed, but the process takes a long time and could cost millions. Even so, many legal experts say that the law pretty clearly violates our free speech rights. Zuma has the chance to give the constitution the respect it deserves and have the court review the bill before it becomes law and starts doing damage.

The clock is ticking and we don't have a moment to lose. Let's push Zuma to respect the law before it's too late. Click below to sign and forward to everyone:

When the Secrecy Bill was first tabled in 2010 and brought to vote in 2011, Avaaz members joined the national call for freedom over secrecy, along with the diverse organizations behind the Right to Know Campaign. Now we have a chance to step in again and keep the pressure up on Zuma's attack on our democracy.

With hope,

Iain, David, Emily, Sam, Ricken, Alice, and the Avaaz team


Will the Secrecy Bill go to the Constitutional Court (Mail and Guardian)

Fury as Secrecy Bill gets nod (Independent Online)

What's still wrong with the Secrecy Bill (Right to Know)

Friday 19 April 2013

Training is not regulated enough (not!)

Take a look at these excerpts from a White Paper on Training  that is scheduled to be published later this month:
"The last three decades have witnessed a raft of government policy initiatives grounded in muddled objectives. This will continue unless we address some fundamental questions about the underlying purpose of such interventions, and proceed from a realistic understanding of the place of skills training in organisations. More of the same will not do. There is an urgent need for new thinking and new approaches grounded in an honest understanding of the nature of the problems we are facing and recognition of the limitations of many of the solutions that have been offered to date."(*1)
Which South African researcher do you think this is from? What about this:
"The national skills debate is complex and nuanced. It is difficult for training professionals to step back and gain a clear overall view of current policy direction; it is hard enough simply to keep track of the bewildering number of policy initiatives that appear and disappear. This situation is not helped by the continual over-promotion of the latest initiative by government..."(*2)
But is it in fact a South African paper? Read the next excerpt:
"Undoubtedly the politically explosive issue within the VET [Vocational Education and Training] debate is youth unemployment – in particular what has become known as the growing number of NEETs (16- to 24-year-olds currently not in employment, education or training)... in the third quarter of 2011, the number of young people who were outside employment, education or training in England reached over a million [1,163,000](*3)  (emphasis added)
So this is a White Paper on the state of training in the United Kingdom, not South Africa.

You know this firstly because of the reference to "England", and secondly because of the fact that we have a lot more than one million youth who are Not in Employment Education or Training (NEETs). The Green Paper(*4) put the figure at 2,8 million youth, but that was quoting a 2007 figure before we felt the economic impact of the 2007 financial crisis.

I deliberately wanted you to read it at first without knowing it was a non-South African paper. It is a paper by Prof Martyn Sloman who is currently visiting South Africa to understand our education and training landscape. I have been assisting Martyn set up interviews with people in government and the private sector who can describe to him the South African experience.

In being interviewed by Martyn however, I was struck at how similar many of the challenges the UK is facing are similar to our own. I realised that as South Africans we are often very self-critical, thinking that our problems are unique to this country. This injects an unhelpful negativity into our dialogue and attempts to find solutions.

But the above three excerpts (and there are many more examples of the same phenomena) show that other countries are struggling with many of the same issues that we are - even first world countries - and even a paradise for foreign investment like the UK.

It is sometimes said that a problem shared, is a problem halved. On some levels, the problems we face in South Africa are being faced all around the world. This means there is more help available than we think.

As we try to improve our education and training system we could look around the world to see what solutions other people may have developed for the problems we are now facing. We could avoid wasting energy "re-inventing the wheel". And we could be less harsh on ourselves.

The HRD Council is in fact taking this approach, and so is the Dept of Higher Education and Training (DHET). We currently have INAP, as well as specialists in education and training from at least the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland working on several projects with DHET in South Africa.

One last point I want to mention about Prof Sloman's visit: he is keenly aware that one of the biggest skills policy problems in the UK is the lack of government regulation.

So we have a UK researcher visiting South Africa to find out how better the UK could regulate their skills development system. Pause for thought for those who are frustrated by the amount of regulation in South Africa..

Martyn will be publishing an early article based on the findings of his South African research on the SABPP and North West University websites. We will link to it here once it is available.

I end this post with the summary of the scope and purpose of Martyn's South African research so that you can see exactly what he is up to here:
"One of the major challenges facing governments throughout the world concerns the formulation and implementation of effective policies for enhanced workplace skills. The key questions are: How can the skills needed to produce higher value goods and services be developed at the corporate level? How can the ‘economically valuable’ skills that underpin growth be developed at a national level?
Skills policy is a challenging and controversial area, not least because policies are articulated at a macro-economic level but are intended to influence behaviour at the micro-level. If organisations under-train how can their behaviour be made systematically different?
Although statements of intention and ambition are remarkably similar throughout the world, there can be considerable differences in the policy instruments that are used. Such differences are at their starkest in a comparison of South Africa and the UK. The former country has adopted an interventionist approach reflecting the government’s wider social objectives; SETAs have been established and a grant and levy system implemented. In contrast, the UK has a stated policy of non-intervention and is trying to proceed with pilot projects to transfer ownership of the skills agenda to employers.
It is therefore timely to review the range and nature of the categories of intervention in the skills policy domain. What are the best structures and best incentives to develop skills at the level of the organisation? How can policy be made more effective?"
Martyn Sloman is a visiting professor at Kingston Business School and a teaching fellow at Birkbeck College. Martyn was "Advisor: Learning, Training and Development" at the UK CIPD ("the world's largest chartered HR and development professional body") from 2001 - 2008. He was appointed Extraordinary Professor at North-West University, Potchefstroom in 2012 and can be contacted at His White Paper will be published later this month on the website Training Journal.You can view an extensive online debate around skills policy in the UK at this address on the Training Journal website.


*1 "Training for skills in crisis – a critique and some recommendations", Prof Martyn Sloman, April 2013 (to be published), page 2
*2 "Training for skills in crisis – a critique and some recommendations", Prof Martyn Sloman, April 2013 (to be published), pp 2-3
*3 "Training for skills in crisis – a critique and some recommendations", Prof Martyn Sloman, April 2013 (to be published), page 4
*4 "Green Paper on Post-School Education & Training" (DHET) January 2013, page 4

Wednesday 10 April 2013

ASTD Conference 5 - 7 March 2013 - Part 4

Click here to jump to Part 1 of this series of posts.

International Trends in HR/HRD

The ASTD does not believe in sleeping late. Although we were in the beautiful mountainous Berg region, they had us up at 7 am for breakfast and then ready by 8 am for the first presenter of the day - Prof Dr Michael Freiboth (University of Applied Sciences, Augsburg, Germany). 

Michael's topic was International Trends in HRD. He also referenced the idea of mega-trends but made the point that these kind of changes are often very small on a quantitative scale, for example a "1% growth in a population with access to higher education" seems like a small change but it can have a massive impact in terms of many other aspects of society and the economy. Mega-trends therefore can often be unseen to the majority of the population but are unstoppable trends with big impact.

He used this fascinating graphic to illustrate how mega-trends are turning  the world upside down (literally), with the influence of nations in the South growing, and those in the North, decreasing (with some futurists talking about a magnetic pole reversal, this shift may have an economic and physical component).

Michael then went on to illustrate with some very humorous examples, the challenges that globalisation presents in the work of developing leadership competencies across cultural boundaries. These lessons were based on his work with Ferrero, the world famous chocolate and confectionery maker which has 21,000 employees across the world and which was attempting to build an international leadership community across its multinational management team.

  • In China a company had tried to introduce an Employee of the Month competition to encourage performance. However shortly after announcing and recognising their first employee of the month, this employee resigned. On inquiring the management discovered that in China there is a cultural perception "the nail that stands out, is hammered in" making the Employee of the Month a negative incentive. A team-based approach was needed instead.
  • Michael also cited research on cross-cultural differences in saying "no" to one's boss, when asked to take on an extra task, with humorous differences between cultures shown below:
    • The GERMAN approach is very direct: "No, I cannot, I might have to postpone some other important work"
    • The CHINESE approach is less direct, "This may be not so easy to do." The cultural strategy is to never say openly "no" because this is very disrespectful. Often an attempt is made to divert from the topic.
    • The ITALIAN approach is indirect, "I am not sure if it is possible," leaving space for misunderstandings when the boss is from a different culture
    • The BRITISH approach was very indirect, "This might be a good idea" meaning that there is only a small chance that this is a good idea.
Ferrero had employees and senior management criss-crossing all of these cultures and therefore faced the challenge of ensuring clear communication and co-ordinated action despite the potentials for misunderstanding seen above.

Of course cultural differences in the workplace can extend way beyond communication styles, as Michael illustrated with this slide from his presentation:

(Polychronic people can schedule various tasks during the same time period whereas monochronic people prefer to do one thing at a time)

Some other interesting observations from Michael's presentation which again highlight the importance of globalisation, the aging workforce, and the importance of women in the workplace:

  • World population is expected to start declining by 2040 (after reaching about 8 billion people)
    • This is contrary to the Club of Rome predictions that the population would grow completely out of control
    • We have seen that once reproduction rates fall below 2.0 (two children per couple) in industrialised countries, they don't bounce back
    • The average worldwide reproduction rate is now 2.43 and it is sinking at a rate of 0.2 per decade
    • Statisticians reckon that in the European Union by 2050, there will be 40 million people less than today
    • This raises the important question, how do we sustain an effective and skilled workforce in the face of declining global population?
    • For African countries this likely means increasing struggle to retain local skills in the face of international poaching
  • In trying to attract talent, companies that are "in the front row" (as Michael calls it - they have big public brands) are less at risk. For example Audi had 83,000 unsolicited work applications in 2013 and an unwanted staff turnover rate below 2%
  • South Africa spends 5,4% of GDP on education, compared with Germany at 4,6% and China at 1,9% (2009)
  • Norway is discussing introducing a legal quota for women in company board positions, at the level of  40%
    • BMW has already introduced quotas of companies for women in management positions at a minimum of 16% (to be reached by 2016)
  • There is some great info in Michael's presentation about how companies are responding to the aging workforce by extending retirement age limits to include more elderly people in the workforce, while at the same time competing to get new talent into the organisation, and then accommodate generational differences in the way the organisation runs (see slides 54 - 59). 
    • For example the diagram below shows how radically different the traditionalists (born before 1945) and the Generation Y/Z  (born 1981 and after) employees are in terms of motivating factors and retention:
We didn't unfortunately get to finish Michael's presentation, as we ran out of time, but you can review all 72 slides at the link in the paragraph above. Next up was Judge Jim Tamm whose broad American accent was in stark contrast to Michael's crisp German English. I will cover his presentation in Part 5 of this series...

Wednesday 13 March 2013

ASTD Conference 5 - 7 March 2013 - Part 3

Click here to jump to Part 1 of the ASTD Conference feedback.

Next up was Agustina Mendez from the Hay Group, a global management consulting firm.

"Leadership 2030 - Leadership Characteristics of the Future"

This was a fascinating presentation giving a glimpse into the potential future and attempting to predict the kind of leadership competencies that will be required of leaders in the near future. To take an educated guess into the future the Hay Group partnered with Z_punkt, a company specialising in future scenario planning. Z_Punkt identified 20 "mega-trends" of the future that the Hay Group then worked with from an HR and leadership perspective to tease out the competencies that would be needed under these conditions.

A "mega-trend" was defined by Z_punkt as a trend which would have global consequences due to the scale of impact, the reach of the trend and the time-frame during which the trend would take place. In her presentation Agustina only had time to look at 5 of the 20 mega-trends, but the full research report can be purchased from the Hay Group. The 5 trends from the presentation were:

  1. Globalisation 2.0
  2. Individualisation and value pluralism (the blurring of the line between work and personal life)
  3. Demographic change
  4. Climate change and environmental impact
  5. Digital life-style
Agustina also referenced research the Hay Group  had done on different kinds of leadership styles one of which was titled, The Indian CEO, the other was The Chinese CEO. Both reports present a refreshing picture of new emerging global CEO styles which are very different (some would say more ethical) than the reigning European CEO and US CEO models.

Some of the insights from Agustina's presentation:
  • Globalisation 2.0
    • There are  now 2 billion middle class people on the planet -a huge growth in the last few years
    • Globalisation is influencing organisations to adopt more "flattened" organisational structures so that information can flow more easily across global boundaries - this is challenging traditional heirarchical reporting structures
    • Individual loyalty is increasingly to the person's social network and not the institution they work for. This is reflected in the fact that instead of one individual resigning from an organisation, an entire team will move at once.
  • Individualisation and value pluralism
    • 59% of employees in Germany changed jobs in the last 5 years
    • People are seeking personal fulfilment in the workplace, whereas previously they would be content to work for money and have a meaningful personal life after work
      • This is causing a convergence of private and working lives
    • We are seeing more unconventional CVs where it is clear that the person was seeking meaning in their life rather than a vertical career progression
      • Lateral career movements are more common in these CVs
      • The search for personal fulfillment is more evident in these CVs
    • We are seeing the rise of what Richard Florida has coined "the creative class" which is involved in creativity across the whole process of product or service design from formulation to creation to implementation of the idea
      • Many people in this group are not happy being micromanaged in their work and want to be self-directed and creative to a greater extent than we have seen before
  • Demographic change
    • We used to hear about the brain drain and now we hear about the brain cycle which is when people have emigrated to the developed world from a developing country, and now decide to return home to their native country, often bringing with them valuable skills and experience
      • This is what Bruno Rouffaer referred to as happening with the Turkish population of Europe, many of whom are now immigrating back to Turkey
      • This trend has been exaggerated by the financial crisis of 2007-8 which has made many developed countries less attractive than some of the the faster growing developing countries of the world 
    • In 2009 there were 7 Western industrial countries amongst the 10 biggest economies in the world, by 2050 it is predicted there will only be 3
  • Digital life-style
    • This has significantly increased the power of customers in a business relationship, making them key partners in the whole value chain of a business and empowering them to shape the end product and the way in which it is produced
    • It now requires a transparency of operations that was unheard of in previous times
    • The (post) heroic but overwhelmed leader:
      • Linked to digital life-style is the issue of ethics in leadership - how do we predict when our leaders are about to bring a scandal to their organisation and damage its reputation? This was never a question in the pre-digital life-style era but now its a primary business imperative
      • A cornerstone leadership competence emerging out of these mega-trends is a kind of curiosity of genuinely wanting to know "how my behaviour or style as a leader is perceived (felt) by you" - also known as caring

 Agustina ended her presentation with this statement to leaders, "if you are only in it for the title you are not going to be able to stick it out in the job - its just not sustainable."
You can download Agustina's presentation here.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

ASTD Conference 5 - 7 March 2013 - Part 2

Click here to jump to Part 1 of the ASTD Conference feedback.

Next up was Idah Zwane-Dlomo, General Manager for Corporate Services at the KZN Provincial Government Treasury. It was fitting for one of the first presentations to come out of the public service, given that:
  • The public service is the largest employer in South Africa
  • The public service will now be contributing to the Skills Development Levy in a structured way which will empower PSETA to act as a significant role player in improving public sector performance
  • Poor public service delivery has been a source of violent public protest now for several years
The topic of Idah's presentation was:

"Practical Strategies to Deal with the Skills Gap in the Workplace"

Idah started off by reminding us that South Africa has the paradox of an unemployment crisis existing simultaneously with an employment crisis. For example we have an official unemployment figure of about 25% of the population while the public service has an average vacancy rate of about 23%. This echoes a poignant quote from Minister Blade Nzimande some year's ago when he said almost exactly three years ago:
"While there are no instant solutions,
the cycle of poverty and hopelessness must be broken as soon as possible.
In every village and town, in every suburb
and city centre, there are gifted people
with broken dreams and no income,
who do not qualify for jobs
that must be filled."
- Minister Nzimande 25 March 2010 

Some highlights from Idah's presentation:
  • The use of "trainee ranks" whereby work placements into the Treasury are placed three job levels below their target employment level 
    • This reduces tension with the unions and existing employees who sometimes greet new trainees with suspicion and jealousy, seeing them as a threat to their positions
    • The trainees are assigned mentors to assist them reach full competency in their new positions, and vigorous Personal Development Plans and Personal Improvement Plans are applied
  • The shortage of internal auditors in the Treasury is addressed by learnerships including a  three year contract, at the target level of employment, except where the candidate has no managerial experience in the public service in which case they are assigned a "trainee rank" while gaining the required experience
Idah concluded her presentation with a humorous quote from Mark Twain, highlighting the value in the KZN Treasury attached to real-world experience (versus knowledge and theory):
"Never let formal education get in the way of your learning "
 You can download Idah's presentation here, and read more about her background here.

There was a break following this presentation where the participants got to stretch legs and meet each other.

Sunday 10 March 2013

ASTD Conference 5 - 7 March 2013 - Part 1

I have just returned from ASTD South Africa's 2013 conference in the Drakensberg.

Three days (and nights) of intensive learning, sharing and networking, I am glad it coincided with the end  of the week so that I could recover over the weekend.

I recommend that anyone involved in workplace learning budget and plan to attend next year's event. I attend 10 - 20 HRD related conferences and events every year and would rate this in the top 3 available.

Below some highlights from the notes I made and the photos I took. Please feel free to post questions for more details in the comments section below.  I am a beginner when it comes to photography, so the pics are pretty rough.

Why is it so good? 

It was the first ASTD event that I attended, so I want to just comment briefly on my perception of why its different, and better than, many of the other HRD events available at the moment:
  • Its not as big as the IPM Annual Conference (about 200 people versus about 900 people) - you don't feel lost in a sea of people you need to talk to but will never get around to more than just greeting. This means that you also get to chat to the international and local guest speakers more freely. 
  • Hosted at Champagne Sports Resorts its not as noisy and distracting as Sun City can be
  • The level of networking and interaction with peers seems somehow more coherent and convergent, possibly because there are only 200 people there
  • The quality of content presented is very high and the relevance of the information is also high, possibly because the ASTD does a lot of research work into effective HRD, and also seems better able to attract international specialists in these fields (they launched their latest State of the Training Industry training report in one of the sessions)
  • Another interesting fact is that most of the speakers hung around for the rest of the conference, and sat in on the other sessions, unlike other events where they disappear immediately their show is over.

The story in pictures and words

So lets begin, letting my camera lead the way...

After traveling down to KZN from Joburg on the ASTD bus, we arrived at 1.30 pm at Champagne Sports Resort, just in time for the 2pm start.

 The ASTD theme, "New Learning for Extraordinary Performance", greets us in the main plenary session - as well as a deliciously cold aircon.

Bruno Rouffaer and Idah Zwane-Dlomo, the first two speakers, chat in the foreground while Robin Probart (President ASTD South Africa) makes final preparations before the start in the background.

Robin welcomes everyone and talks about the need to go beyond "yesterday's logic", conquer the "data overload" facing us all, and move into a new mode of collaboration which is the most effective way to solve the latest HRD challenges. 

Bruno took the first plenary session with an insightful and very motivating presentation called, "Big Bad Boss Era is Over". In his Belgian-English accent he pointed out that a fundamental change in the nature of work relationships was taking place, and the leader of tomorrow would be very different from the big bad boss stereotype. Some of the interesting points Bruno made:
  • Youth immigration to Europe starting to reverse, due partly to the recession, but also because young Turks, for instance, feel alienated in a Europe that sees them as Turks rather than as human beings. They are going back to Turkey and taking valuable skills and experience with them back to their home countries. At the same time many native Europeans, such as Spanish youth, are heading to Latin American countries to look for work.
  • China's population of higher education students is 125 million people, India: 130 million
  • It was the protest of a Tunisian higher education student, Mohamed Bouaziz that triggered the Arab Spring and removed four governments from power with several others waiting in line

  • If Wikipedia were a book, it would contain 2,25 million pages and take 123 years to read - evidence of the enormous power the internet has given us to reinvent economic, social and knowledge relationships
  • More than 50% of the world's population is under the age of 30 - the new generation of youth entering the workplace are looking for a holistic level of meaning that unites their work and personal life  and does not split them into conflicting roles
  • The why component of learning is very important to the younger generation and needs to be understood before the how and what components

Interestingly Bruno owns a farm in Hluhluwe, KZN, and spends about a third of his time in South Africa, and the rest in Europe. His South African life includes supporting the Isibani Community Centre in Winterton. If you are interested in more from Bruno he has just published his book (by the same title as the presentation) and it can be ordered here.

Please check back to this blog post during the course of this week when I will be adding more pictures and snippets from the conference.

Click here to jump to Part 2 of the ASTD Conference feedback.

Sunday 3 March 2013

Launch of the Skills Handbook Blog

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the new official blog of The Skills Handbook.

This blog is being launched just in time for the ASTD South Africa's 9th International Conference. I will be presenting a Skills Development Update there and also sharing some of the content on this blog over the coming weeks.

This is a list of the topics I will be covering in future posts:
  • ASTD Conference reportback - highlights and key new ideas discussed
  • The Minister of HET's January and February press briefings and what light they shed on the direction of government strategy
  • The Nedbank Occupational Qualifications Case Study - this could be the biggest success story in workplace learning since the year 2000, a very exciting development that will hopefully be the start of a national (and international) trend in workplace learning
  • Intellectual Apartheid Fights On - the debate around limiting the QCTO to NQF Level 6 qualifications: how can we still be arguing about the importance of workplace learning on the NQF?
  • The QCTO and the HRD Council expand their web presence - good news for workplace learning as communication from both organisations improves
  • Key developments expected from DHET by 1 April 2013 - there are several documents, regulations and policy updates expected as the new financial year starts

The 2013/14 Skills Handbook will be available in the following formats:
  • The hardcopy edition of the book (available approximately June 2013)
  • The eBook edition of the book, on CD-ROM (available approximately May 2013)
  • A downloadable PDF version of the book on Scribd  (available approximately May 2013)
  • The free online book which will be a regular HTML website view of the book rather than a PDF version. Our hope is that this will encourage more interaction than the PDF edition of the book allows. 
  • For those of you who can't wait until the new book is out please contact us about our in-house information sessions for HRD Teams and HR practitioners to update them on all the latest developments.
    Please also subscribe to our RSS feed (bottom of the page) to get updates whenever a new post is published. Not sure what an RSS feed is? This page will help you get started.