top south african training company launches new business targeted at previously ignored mid-level employees and newly employed graduates

Official unemployment is running at between 27% and 40% and yet businesses say they battle to find appropriate staff to fulfill their needs.

Liza van Wyk, CEO of BizTech, a new company launched to provide bridging for graduates who are battling to apply university theory to workday practice, and or mid-level employees who want to progress in their career says, “we have experienced this problem in our own fast growing business, we’d grow faster if we could find the right people but recruitment is a real problem.”

In 2004, StatsSA reported that of the 40,4% unemployed, 60 000 were graduates. Many companies or business associations, including the Institute of Chartered Accountants, complain that many degrees have scant value – students may have theory but do not always know how to apply it, their social skills and English capacity are often marginal too. Gauteng’s premier Mbhazima Shilowa, in October 2006, quoted a newspaper “report which indicated that "50 percent of South Africa’s undergraduate students fail to complete their degrees and only 30 percent obtain their qualifications within five years of enrolling as first year students.” He said: “the sector education and training authorities (SETA) have failed to respond adequately to the challenge of skills development…”

Van Wyk says that it is better to employ someone who meets most, even if not all needs, and to train them. “People are more likely to stay with a company that they know is interested in their development. “The world is progressing so fast with globalisation that ongoing learning is essential just to keep up. If you take Ireland, which has grown from being a severely in debt nation 20 years ago to the world’s second richest country now, it has just announced (6 March) that a million of its work force – and it is a country of just 4,5m people – have to double their skills in the next five years for that country to remain competitive. “If a country that is doing that well places such a high demand on top level skills, then we cannot lag behind.”

Van Wyk says that a failure to train staff and boost efficiencies “affects overall resource costing – if staff are not doing things efficiently you need more staff to do the job.” Van Wyk said they began planning BizTech a year ago when the parent company, Astro Tech which caters for executive and senior staff had a course on “High Performance PAs and Administrators” – “we couldn’t, and still can’t keep up with demand for that course. We began researching the market and realized that mid-level employees are the heart of an organisation, if you send an executive to training but he is not backed by highly skilled support staff, his or her best efforts are reduced.

“We also realized that there is often poor appreciation by bosses of the high level skills needed for tasks they often give to people which impact on the image of the company. Staff with little or no training battle to make the grade, or money is wasted by bringing in high-priced consultants.” She says that events planning, designing invitations and ads were some of the skills that were poorly appreciated by executives but had high impact on the company image.

“At present too, many PAs and oftice administrators are helping their managers put together budgets for projects, it is they who handle expense accounts, the petty cash and credit cards, it is an area fraught with risk if there is fraud or someone who does not know how to balance the books and so one of our courses is on “Finance and Budgeting for PA’s. “We are living in the knowledge era and in a highly competitive world, life long learning is essential to the individual and any corporate that wants to stay ahead.”