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Institutions must seek to better understand the youth

Pearson Institute of Higher Education will host a variety of youth skills development initiatives to commemorate Youth Month.

Pearson Institute of Higher Education will host a variety of youth skills development initiatives to commemorate Youth Month.

In commemoration of Youth Month, in June, Pearson Institute of Higher Education (PIHE) will be hosting various initiatives to advance the skills and training of young people.

According to Dr Nhlanhla Thwala, Academic Director at Pearson Institute of Higher Education, as a general trend, the institution is focusing on better understanding the youth perspective on education and career building.

“The customer is king, but we have to ask ourselves what that means. Our challenge is that education is changing so rapidly that we must constantly adjust our offerings to remain relevant,” he says.

“That is why we are having meaningful engagement with young people in the 17 to 24 year-old age group to understand what they want and need.”

Thwala notes that the institution is looking to move away from a qualifications-based educational model, towards one that prioritises skills and competences.

“This is a map to industry and the future. The demand for education is high, but simply having an education does not position you to get a job and build a career. In an era of automation, it is important to position yourself in such a way that you can have a career,” he says.

Thwala says he believes the youth of today need to acquire the following competences to be successful:

● Personal effectiveness competencies;

● Academic skills competences that teach critical thinking;

● Quantitative skills that help achieve simplified solutions; and

● The skill of continuous learning.

The institution will host an international debate camp, for the fourth year running, in partnership with New York’s Cornell University from 24th to 28th June 2019 at the Midrand campus.

The national event will culminate in a final debate competition on the 28th July, with students from various Pearson campuses taking part. The two best Pearson Institute students will be given the opportunity to go to Cornell University in New York for 2 weeks to participate in further debate training.

“Communication is one of the most important skills that we can equip young people with, hence the debate camp has become a popular annual event,” says Thwala.

Secondly, Thwala says the institution will also host a Hack Jam later in the year from 4th to 6th October 2019. The Hack Jam gives students a chance to outline a real-life problem and present a practical solution to a panel of judges.

“This event was held for the first time last year and cash prizes were up for grabs. It gives young people the opportunity to innovate and prototype a solution for a pressing problem in their community. This is part of a greater initiative to involve students in the area of innovation,” he explains.

“We are currently working closely with industry to tap into industry boards and ensure that the curriculum meets the needs and standards of industry. But what we also need to be doing is working with experts who synthesise trends and help us identify skills and knowledge needs that are still coming, so that we can better prepare our students for the future,” concludes Thwala.

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