North-West University: NWU strengthens ties with industry employers


According to statistician-general and head of Statistics South Africa Risenga Maluleke, the world of work is a competitive space where the skilled and unskilled often compete for opportunities, with some feeling discouraged or ending up being employed in an industry that is misaligned to their profession.

The North-West University (NWU), as one of the largest higher education institutions in the country and producing an equally high number of career-seeking graduates, held a workshop on 15 August 2022 in Johannesburg with organisations that employ NWU graduates to address this issue.

The engagement also provided the opportunity to get feedback on how NWU graduates in the fields of business mathematics, informatics, computer science and related sciences are performing in the industries they’ve been absorbed into. The workshop was also aimed at getting insight in industry needs and how it may inform the academic programmes offered by the university.

During the event, Prof Robert Balfour, deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, emphasised that the university appreciates feedback from the industry, and that it is necessary to create synergy to ensure the continued relevance of programmes offered to students.

His presentation touched on three themes: what makes students employable; what does the market or the industry require; and lastly, what are the gaps or challenges faced in the skills set of NWU students. NWU and company representatives were then split into three groups to discuss and report back on the three areas.

In the feedback session of the different plenaries, the groups reported that a solid theoretical foundation, balanced with practical knowledge, makes graduates employable. They further highlighted that students need to have the necessary soft skills such as teamwork, problem solving and communication skills.

Prof David Modise, the executive dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, welcomed the feedback and indicated that these insights will be used to ensure that the NWU produces graduates who are relevant and ready to contribute to the economic growth of the country.

Attendees brainstorm with Prof Robert Balfour, NWU deputy vice-chancellor for teaching and learning, during the workshop.

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