Saide Facilitates a Pre-conference Workshop at the Nineth Pan Commonwealth Conference

Ephraim Mhlanga

Saide Facilitates a Pre-conference Workshop at the Nineth Pan Commonwealth Conference

Saide facilitated a preconference workshop of the Ninth Pan Commonwealth Forum (PCF9) held in September 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland.  Saide is currently supporting the Commonwealth of Learning’s (COL) employability project. this seeks to develop employability guidelines for academic institutions to utilise in evaluating how effectively they support students to expand their probabilities of securing employment after graduation. Saide’s Quality Assurance Programme Specialist, Ephraim Mhlanga facilited this workshop.

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The workshop was attended by representatives from seven Southern African universities that are implementing a COL-supported initiative on employability.

In her opening remarks, Professor Asha Kanwar, President of COL, emphasized the importance of harnessing technology to improve access and quality of education. She also further noted the importance of balancing theory and practice, while imparting hard and soft skills needed in the workplace.

Professor Kanwar emphasized that the focus of education should shift from certification to imparting competencies relevant for the world of work. She underscored the importance of upholding value systems in education.

Through this project, which is supported by Saide, institutions identified graduate competencies and skills that are required on the job market. Guidelines were then developed which enable institutions to identify good practice in preparing students for employment. As the first step in implementing the project, the seven project institutions conducted a pilot self-review using the guidelines in order to identify what was in place and any existing gaps.

The pilot process also helped in identifying shortcomings that needed to be addressed in the guidelines. The preconference workshop, provided a platform for the project institutions to share the findings of the pilot, that were revealing in terms of institutional support to students on employability.

The self-review pilot study findings in most universities showed that they do not adequately promote entrepreneurial skills not inculcate positive attitudes on education for entrepreneurialship. among their students.

The pilot institutions also noted that they believe that they do not provide sufficient guidance and career counselling to their students. As a result, students show a lack of appropriate knowledge on employment opportunities in other parts of the world, which they can take advantage of and secure employment.

However, the exercise was helpful in informing institutions about areas that need improvement. Most importantly, the project demonstrated the methodology institutions can use to conduct regular self-reviews on how well they support students to acquire employability.