Johannesburg Business School to equip execs with 4IR skills

Tumi Nkosi, director of executive education and programmes at the Johannesburg Business School.
Tumi Nkosi, director of executive education and programmes at the Johannesburg Business School.

The Johannesburg Business School (JBS), a faculty of the University of Johannesburg, says it is repositioning for the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) by creating a future-fit approach to ensure its executive education offerings are more specific to today’s organisational strategy.

The higher learning institution says its management courses and organisation-specific courses have now been incorporated with new programmes aimed to arm company leaders with digital skills such as literacy, cloud computing, big data and data analytics, data security, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, as well as the internet of things.

With today’s business success being highly dependent on a digitally savvy, decentralised and cooperative workforce, this re-modelling seeks to unpack 4IR technologies and translate them into what they practically mean for a manager’s role in today’s digital age, it adds.

This new approach, according to JBS, is especially relevant given the accelerated pace of digitalisation over the past two years, which has brought entirely different ways of working and learning.

“When it comes to ongoing education for executives, the one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t cut it,” says Tumi Nkosi, director of executive education and programmes at JBS.

“That’s why both our Management Acceleration Programme and our organisation-specific programmes are designed to be relevant to the real world of business. They’re also designed to accommodate existing executives as well as the pipeline of leaders of the future.”

The new offerings are in addition to already existing JBS programmes, which have been introduced in the syllabus over the past few years.

These include courses such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain for Managers, Cloud Computing, Big Data and Data Analytics for managerial decision-making and Digital Marketing.

In addition to the new digital skillsofferings, the JBS says it is also in the process of evolving its learning approach for online learning, having recently introduced virtual reality learning, which is driven by an increase in demand for remote learning.

According to JBS, this virtual learning approach includes incorporating digital immersions in all its executive online programmes, offering new and inventive ways to teach and enable participants and lecturers to engage in a virtual world.

The dire digital skills gap in SA, coupled with evolving business strategies, has prompted local tertiary institutions to intensify their roll-out of tech-focused courses.

Last year, the University of Johannesburg introduced free AI online courses. The Witwatersrand Business School has also introduced a master's degree in digital business, while the Durban University of Technology has introduced a post-graduate 4IR upskilling and reskilling programme.

“The skills challenges that both businesses and South Africa faces are two-fold. There is a very real difference between being unemployed and being unemployable,” addsNkosi.

“Unemployed people with skills appropriate to contemporary business can be re-absorbed into the workforce as work becomes available. We are, however, facing another – even greater – issue than unemployment in South Africa – the fact that many people of working age are becoming unemployable due to their lack of digital skills.

“The unemployability issue is why business schools have to become more accessible to employees throughout the organisation, and why the courses and programmes we offer have to have a strong digital skills component,” concludesNkosi.

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