Transformation Occurs Only Outside The Comfort Zone

You are deluding yourself if you think that you can transform by only changing things on the outside. That is called window dressing.

I am busy doing some background research to assist youth in preparation of career planning for their future. Listed amongst the scarce skills in South Africa  last year was "Philosophers, Historians and Political Scientists".

Source: The Best Schools
How would one prepare youth to pursue such jobs and would youth qualify to apply for these positions? Would they be interested?  Which demographic would this appeal to more and where would recruiters go to find people with these scarce skills? 

Do philosophers, historians or political scientists apply for jobs? Here is tangible proof that it is time to change the way we teach, learn and even the way we prepare for recruitment. As organisations seek to reduce costs, Baby Boomers are beginning to get a little jittery around the prospects of losing their jobs to millenials, who are not afraid to state clearly what they expect from their bosses in return for remuneration. Corporates are letting go of institutional knowledge and losing the opportunity of transforming from within the organisation by using the boomers to coach the millenials, thus getting the most from the younger generation and their innovative ideas to create new sales funnels or improve on processes.

But I digress so back to the Scarce Skills list where, many of the other jobs are standard careers that one would fine in healthy functional societies, some examples lawyers, paramedics, maths and science teachers. Why would these types of jobs be on the Scarce Skills lists? Are we saying that we do not have those skills in the country at all? Or is it that the criteria required to match the person to the position is skewed? The official list of Scarce Skills are listed here in the government Gazette of June 2014.

We know there are people sitting at home with the right experience but not the right qualifications, or the right qualifications but inadequate experience. Are organisations demanding too much for too little? Are educational institutes aligned to the requirements of the work industry? 

In society, who is responsible for preparing the youth of today for the work of tomorrow? Children are taught how to read, write and do maths. Teens are asked to choose a career around the age of 14 and if their maths and literacy levels are inadequate, the career guidance offers little advice as to what other options they might have i.e. this Scarce Skills lists does not make mention of any artisanal skills, yet the Department of Higher Education launched the Decade of the Artisan in 2014 to upskill 30 000 artisans per annum, indicating a clear need to develop these types of skills in South Africa. 

But do we have the necessary infrastructures in place to teach learners? Artisans are taught in either private training institutions or in TVETs (Technical & Vocational Education and Training). We do not have enough of them in the country to absorb the current needs. Yet the opportunities for artisanal work in an emerging economy is phenomenal since they support the growth of the construction, utilities, transport and manufacturing industries. Even with automation and AI, these industries are far from redundant not only here but also on the African continent in general. 

There are so many questions that the bigger question becomes "Where exactly are are we failing in this transformation process?"

So in my quest to find a little bit of background to offer my small group of teenagers, it seems that I have stumbled on a system that is neither moving forward, nor moving backwards. It is simply stagnating, perhaps waiting for "someone" to do the transformation for them? We need to fastrack our entrepreneurs and new industry leaders, whilst supporting economic growth. 

There are so many opportunities 
  • for job creation, 
  • for entrepreneurship,
  • for CSI projects to empower and enable people and communities,
  • for transfering skills
  • for learning,
  • for mentoring and coaching both inside and outside of the workplace,
  • for _____________________ fill in the blank
if we are willing to do things very, very differently, because transformation only take place outside of the comfort zone.

But to take advantage of all of that, the Transformational Leaders need to get out of the shadows and take the lead. These are the people who understand that true transformation requires resilience and the ability to craft solutions out of thin air by simply involving the people most concerned by the changes that will affect them. They also understand that their ideas and approach are not popular with conservatives and traditionalists but they get the job done because they do things differently. Engage the entrepreneurs as resources to accelerate the transformation programs and sponsor them through the likes of NAFCOC so that they may receive the necessary training needed to provide much needed services to all sectors. 

In that list of scarce skills there is still no mention of Business Services, Project Management, Change Management or Communications Management, all of which are skills which are needed to support the Future of Work. The Scarce Skills List is a fabulous starting shows that we need change makers, policy makers, the education departments, municipal leaders, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs and youth leaders to get together. Not to start from scratch but to partner together to assign teams to take the lessons learned from previously rolled out plans, identify the major risks, and provide real mitigated solutions and implement plans that will move us out of the rut that we are currently stuck in, all so that I can give my kids career options that will lead to potential career fulfillment and not simply another statistic on the unemployment list.

Joan Laine provides Transformational Leadership Coaching Solutions to entrepreneurs and small business owners through Embracing Change. She also providers Strategic Consulting Services to corporate Business and is looking for partners to roll out pilot programmes for youth.
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