Pandemic pushes for change in strategy

Prof Francis Petersen

The Covid-19 pandemic may bring a new dawn for the workplace as life under the virus brings changes that are expected to affect the long-term future. This is according to Prof. Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice Chancellor of the University of the Free State as he reflected on the importance of developing adaptable skills in the new workforce.

He expressed that provision of appropriate skills for the future workplace, and a relationship between institutions, business, the private sector and industry are proving to be essential. “Universities and TVETs should strive towards more inclusive and flexible curricula that reflect the realities of private sector, industry, commerce and the future world of work.

Advisory boards for academic departments at these institutions made up of representatives from the sectors with traditional research engagements and the offering of short learning programmes with these sectors, are the type of ecosystem that will not only provide adaptable skills, but will promote innovation for the economy,” said Prof. Petersen.

“Furthermore, a student-entrepreneurial value-chain approach, focusing on sensitisation, graduate attributes, exposure to entrepreneurs, incubation, introduction to proper networks and business development, could be a deliberate institutional design to maximise an entrepreneurial culture among graduates,” he added.

Prof. Petersen also explained that in an economy that had been facing recession even before the pandemic, it would be up to both the private sector and government to cocreate an economic growth path, especially for the creation of jobs.

“There cannot be a continual adversarial relationship between government and the private sector because there are certain areas where the government will need to take the lead in terms of development and growth supported by the private sector, and there are others where government will need to work with private sector as they take the lead, to affect growth!” said Prof. Petersen.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele