The Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) in the College of Law and Management Studies hosted an engagement between the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA), Mr Sihle Zikalala and students sponsored by the Department.
The EDTEA and the GSB&L have entered into a collaborative agreement to train local economic development and research practitioners to identify economic sectors that have the potential to attract investment and thus boost economic growth and create jobs.
Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brian McArthur said it was a great privilege for UKZN to be part of an initiative that promotes and supports internships, graduate programmes, entrepreneurs and students in their postgraduate studies located in and geared towards local economic development.
He highlighted the importance of partnerships in promoting skills development for socio-economic advancement: ‘UKZN has recently adopted a sustainability strategy that will forge mutually beneficial partnerships with other universities, industry and the various tiers of government. The underlying philosophy is to join skill sets, strategic initiatives and resources of powerful entities that have the potential to generate massive benefits for all partners.’
‘The ongoing partnership between the Department and UKZN has established an effective framework for identifying and nurturing the future leaders of economic development that we celebrate this afternoon,’ he added.
Zikalala outlined what is expected of the beneficiaries and encouraged them to play a role in boosting the South African economy under the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
‘To succeed in the 4IR we have to build a cohort of professionals who will adapt and embrace the new opportunities presented by digitisation. It is your generation that must be at the forefront, innovating and creating new and efficient solutions that will power our development in a profitable way,’ he said.
He expressed the Department’s gratitude to the University for joining forces to train cohorts of government officials that will be responsible for local economic development: ‘This partnership needs to be enhanced to produce a new breed of professionals and entrepreneurs with imaginative thinking.’
Two previous beneficiaries shared their journeys. Dr Nomkhosi Luthuli, lecturer at the GSB&L and former intern said that the EDTEA saw something in her that she didn’t see in herself. The many opportunities she received helped shape the professional she is today. She urged current beneficiaries to: ‘Prioritise and invest in your personal growth, get an education and go beyond miles others have gone. It is all good and well that we have degrees but they are immaterial in the outside world, work on diversifying your skills.’
Mr Mfanelo Ndlovu, founder of Electri-Coal Technologies and former champion in the Regional and Local Economic Development (RLED) initiative commended the College’s support services for the psychometric test that revealed that he was an entrepreneur and EDTEA for funding the development of a prototype for his business when he participated in the champion project. He added that the partnership gave him the opportunity to be a change-making agent in his community.
‘I challenge the youth to partner with the Department and play an active role in growing the economy and make KwaZulu-Natal a top Gross Domestic Product (GDP) contributor,’ he said.
Words: Lungile Ngubelanga
Photograph: Albert Hirasen