It's more than just Education…

I am sure you have all heard it. Without fail, most people believe that education is the solution to all our economic ills. Often, you also hear how “skills” are needed to solve unemployment. Of late, the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the latest fashion statement. To date, our country had limited success with entrepreneurial development, notwithstanding the focus on both skills and education. The Fourth Industrial Revolution lists an interesting skills set as part of the requirements to survive in our VUCA world. In the top ten, skills like Critical Thinking, Emotional Intelligence and Problem Solving are seen as top priority. 

These so called soft skills are pivotal – they precede the development of education and development of skills. Education tends to focus on knowledge, but assumes we all know how to think effectively. Critical Thinking, Emotional Intelligence and Problem solving are a few examples of knowledge and skills that should precede any job related skills. Before we should teach job skills, learning how to apply thinking maybe just what it needed. Enter the concept or contextual awareness. In order to operate effectively in your environment, one needs to have an awareness of the said environment. Not understanding the context in which one operates, hampers the understanding of “purpose”. In industry this relates to mindless execution of tasks, following rules without questioning, and performing a job based on “ticking the box”. 

To transform to entrepreneurial behaviour is tough. It often requires training a person to make money in a context, that is ill understood. Its lonely, and its risky. Also, support is limited. Entrepreneurs need firstly to master critical thinking, emotional intelligence and problem solving to function in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This equips us with a contextual understanding of the environment we live in. Business acumen is next. We can learn a lot from theory, but if we don’t apply it, we are lost. Coaching and mentoring is very important, but reflection is essential. The ability to learn from so called mistakes, drives skills to the next level. Some still think that learning is finite. This is not the case as learning is perpetual. The process is iterative. It is layered. We learn by repetition. For this reason, motivation, encouragement and positive behaviour is required. It is essential that we have a process of building people. Development

processes are to focus on rewards, and not be punitive. Get the entrepreneur to do it. Then get her to understand that she did it. Next remind her that she did it. Then tell her she can do it again. When she experiences it all, she will repeat it. Nothing succeeds like success.


By Dr Wynand Goosen