Six top trends in education

Six top trends in education

Learning with mobility.

Learning anyplace and anytime is the new buzz phrase at Boston, inspired by the needs of employed learners as well as learners with geographical mobility concerns. Online learning saves time – which can be used more productively, in the home or in the workplace, – by reducing daily travel. It also saves travel costs. It also allows learners to learn at their own pace.

Technology-based training.

Learning when you are in control of the lecturer. This means that you stop and start as you process new concepts. It gives you time to properly understand the concepts, preventing huge gaps in skills and knowledge that can occur when a lecturer moves on before the whole class has understood.  The importance of this control should not be underestimated, and this control is what has improved the academic success of Boston graduates.

Institutions maintaining a relationship with corporate and industry.

“There is rising crescendo about whether the education curriculum has been reformed enough to make graduates employable. Purely academic qualification is no longer particularly relevant to someone who, for instance, wants to become an entrepreneur”. (IAfrica.com). Boston continually liaises with industry to make sure graduates meet skills demands, and react positively to feedback from companies by way of adapting curriculums where necessary. WIL (Workplace learning) is a module included in qualifications where earners have to seek and perform specified duties in a workplace giving them real-time workplace experience.

Opening the pathways for private providers.

It has been established and played out on a public platform that public universities simply cannot meet the educational demands of industry or of the learners. Private universities such as Boston adapt teaching methodology, curriculum and fee payments and even day-to-day personal contact to ensure their learners’ needs are met. They, therefore, have a vastly higher throughput rate.

The concept of Life-long learning used to apply to IT. It now applies to every industry and every profession.

An ever-changing economy and diverse workplace, both culturally as well as skills-based creates the need for people to continually upgrade their skills in order to improve promotion potential as well as to simply remain relevant in the workplace.

Employers are in the position to demand greater competence

Universities have to include soft skills such as time management as well as excellent ICT skills, no matter the trade or profession. Learners must broaden their skills base, and if the skills are not included in their qualifications they must seek them elsewhere as add ons such as through Boston Connect. Vocational skills are increasingly being valued over and above theoretical qualifications.

Everyone should undergo a career assessment test before choosing a career path

Everyone should undergo a career assessment test before choosing a career path

According to research done by Accenture, it was found that only 41% of South Africans are actually satisfied with their jobs.  Yet, the same survey also shows that very few of those who are unsatisfied with their jobs take any steps toward a career change.

There are numerous reasons for this, some include job security, the years spent on a specific career path, the time spent studying for that career and the comfort of knowing one has already gained the experience and that there’s risk involved in opting for a new job which requires a new skill set.

According to Natalie Rabson, Skills Development Facilitator at Boston City Campus & Business College “One of the main reasons why so many South Africans are unsatisfied with their careers and now find themselves stuck may be simply because they made the wrong career decision initially. We often were guided by our parents who wanted us to have lucrative careers that were in demand at the time. In addition – careers and skills demands have changed and not everyone has kept up to date!”

“Career decisions are often based on unrealistic fantasies and idealistic views or influenced by friends, family, the media and misinformed perceptions of careers,” says Rabson.

Another problem arises when students pick a qualification without understanding what jobs it will (and, importantly, won’t) qualify them for once they graduate.  “We need to be realistic – while we may qualify in management –you can’t go out and manage a team in a business you don’t understand. You need to learn the business and understand the people you are managing first” says Rabson. In other words, Rabson advises to open yourself up to starting in an entry-level position.

For Rabson, the key to making the right career choice comes down to the kind of mentorship prospective students and job seekers are exposed to.

“Young adults need to be steered in the right direction and preferably by means of a structured process that helps determine what they really want from life, what their dreams are and what makes them unique.  There also needs to be a proper understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, their thinking patterns, personality traits, work style preferences, values, and interests.  These are the essential determining factors when it comes to making successful career decisions,” says Rabson.

Ideally one should already start thinking about which career path to take in those final school years.  Thinking about it is one thing; more importantly, there needs to be some form of guided introspection.  A structured, scientific approach is what’s needed.

Boston offers a career compass assessment where a prospective student meets up with a counsellor who will take him/her through a computerised process that aims to match the participant’s interests, skills, and personality through placing answers in suitable categories. This allows the counsellor to analyse the results and provide the prospective student with advice on possible course options and career opportunities in his/her recommended field.

“Making use of such a method whereby one’s interests, skills, and personality are aligned with a possible career path is a fundamentally important first step in the process of choosing the right career path.  That is why we encourage all prospective students, whether they will eventually register at Boston or another tertiary institution, to come in for this career assessment.  Too many students make a decision based on what friends are doing or what friends say or make impulsive career decisions and ultimately end up on the wrong career path,” adds Rabson.

“What we do know for sure is that your success in your qualification, as well as in your job, will be markedly increased if you choose something you love!” says Rabson. Seek professional guidance in making an informed career decision.  Your future depends on it.  Also, remember that more than a third of your life will be spent working – don’t waste it by being unhappy in your career because you made an uninformed or impulsive decision in your younger years,” concludes Rabson.

For more information on Boston’s Career Compass Assessment, please visit www.boston.co.za.

More graduate programmes needed to ensure work-readiness among SA youth

More graduate programmes needed to ensure work-readiness among SA youth

In the past 15 years, graduate employment has risen in South Africa, despite the country’s exceptionally high unemployment rate. While a third of people are jobless, graduate unemployment has declined to under 5%. This according to new research by a leading think-tank, the Johannesburg-based Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE).

“The myth that graduates are struggling to find work can be set aside for now,” says Natalie Rabson, Marketing Manager at Boston City Campus & Business College. “The problem, however, is that graduates who are entering the workplace are not ready for it and a clear skills gap exists between what employers are looking for, and what graduates are capable of offering.”

In a 2009 study on South African graduates from the perspective of employers, it was already highlighted that a disparity exists between the expectations of employers and the work-readiness of graduates and that those expectations exceeded the level of work-readiness.

It has become clear that tertiary institutions need to do much more to help their graduates become work-ready.  Surely this cannot entirely be their responsibility? Business and industry have to be held accountable as well – whilst universities or colleges are there to help graduates develop analytical and reasoning skills, business does have a role to play in getting students ready for work.

Fortunately, it does seem that things are changing for the better and some tertiary institutions are finding themselves driven towards producing graduates more fully prepared for the workplace. This needs to grow, and tertiary institutions and corporates need to create dialogue and communicate on workplace skills and experience. Education, therefore, needs to ensure that it is meeting the needs of its ultimate objective, the employer, and this can only happen if there’s more dialogue between colleges, universities, and employers in general. Boston has found that the best way to encourage this is by increased interaction and placement of students into internships and workplace opportunities as part of their course or degree requirements,” says Rabson.

Graduates also need to be properly matched to businesses in ways that focus on business needs. Taking more care in the placement of learners into the correct career, and then the placement of graduates into internships or work-experience opportunities, whether at corporate, government or SME level, will see a huge improvement in the success of workplace skills development. For this reason, Boston has offered the Career Compass, an assessment of one’s interests and attitude, free, for over 20 years. “Matching your education to your passion is one of the greatest instruments for academic and professional success,” says Rabson.

Boston City Campus & Business College, for example, has for years now directly taken on this challenge faced by students. “Yes, getting the necessary qualification is important, but acquiring hands-on experience and skills to help further one’s business knowledge and one’s understanding of workplace culture is as important.  That’s why Boston has a recruitment office with a full-time manager. Through this office, students get the opportunity to interview for positions and apply, and often secure an internship or employment. Whilst internships can lead to permanent employment, the overall experience gives learners the chance to spruce up their CV’s and build experience in a real-world working environment,” says Rabson.

Boston has also launched the unique Graduate+ programme. This gives learners the confidence that their future is secure with the institution behind them. Those who opt into this programme, and meet the requirements, will be offered one of three options on graduating if they do not manage to secure employment within 6 months. These include assistance in finding employment, a postgraduate diploma for free, or a cash incentive that will support you will you continue to seek employment.

Call Boston on 011 551 2000 or email info@boston.co.za. Follow us on Facebook for continued education updates.

The Middle Path: Between the Comfort and the Snap Zone

The Middle Path: Between the Comfort and the Snap Zone

The truth of breakthroughs and lucky breaks is that they are grown, like a crop:  Planted, cultivated and ultimately harvested. (Jeff Olsen).

“While ‘achievers’ in different areas from academics to career, sport, and business may appear to have overnight success, the truth is their success is most often based on the cumulative impact of continuous effort which pushes them just outside their comfort zone,”.

On the other hand, setting impossible goals can result in underachievement or burnout from pushing too hard.  Brian Johnson calls this the snap zone. Mindfulness and performance expert, George Mumford talks about the middle path – the area between the comfort and discomfort zone.

Want to learn more? Click here to listen to Dr. Linda Meyer, educational and career expert.