Johannesburg, 01 Feb 2019
The world around us is changing and people have to learn new skills in new ways. Educational institutions have to adapt the way in which they deliver qualifications, as well as the content of those qualifications, to keep pace with the changes.
There is a balance required between businesses having access to employees with the skills that are in demand today, and individuals knowing which certifications will render them employable. People are no longer hired to fit job titles; they are hired for the skills they bring to the business. However, there is a generally acknowledged skills gap and employers and individuals alike need to find a way to fill that.
"The solution," says Lizelle van Niekerk, national sales manager for part-time and short courses at CTU Training Solutions, "lies in short courses. The new types of roles that the modern workplace is creating requires certification in specific skills, and the skills required of any one role will evolve over time. There's also an increasing urgency around acquiring new skills, which means that employees need to be upskilled quickly and efficiently and without too much disruption to the business."
The implication of the above seems to be that ongoing certification in current skills is receiving more focus than accumulated years of workplace experience, says Van Niekerk. In fact, LinkedIn shortlisted the most in-demand skills for 2019 as a combination of hard and soft skills. "It's important for individuals to realise that companies value the ability to work well in a team or manage your time efficiently as highly as they do certifications in hard technical skills," she says.
As a result, more of the bigger vendors are incorporating soft skills training into their hard technical skills certifications, while some of the training providers are giving their students complementary access to soft skills courses that will help them achieve their career goals.
"Subjects such as professionalism and communication are being bundled together with harder technical subjects to help people navigate the workplace in addition to being able to perform certain tasks."
Using e-learning to deliver short courses enables businesses to upskill their workforce, while it also enables employees to upskill themselves while earning a living.
Van Niekerk says: "It's necessary for educational institutions to design certification programmes that not only focus on the technology side of qualifications, but also the softer skills such as communications, which are, for example, essential for IT technicians who sometimes have to be customer-facing.
"The focus for employers and employees alike in 2019 is very much going to be short, job-focused certifications that will equip them with the hard and soft skills that they'll need in an age of ongoing digital transformation," she says.
Is there irony in the fact that, as companies become increasingly technology-driven, they are requiring their employees to have certifications in 'human' skills? "Not at all," replies Van Niekerk. "Initially there was a drive to automate everything; now there's a growing recognition that machines can't replicate all human tasks. Therefore, we need to empower people with better soft skills, and short course certifications are one way for an employee to show that he or she has the necessary capabilities for the job role at hand."