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Creating a lifelong learning environment for all Unisans

Through its Human Resources Training Policy, Unisa engages its staff members in continual learning to develop new skills and knowledge. Every member of the university is encouraged to take the learning and training opportunities to advance not only in their careers but also in the communities and South Africa.

Dr Gwendoline van der Berg

According to Dr Gwendoline van der Berg, the Management and Leadership Manager in the university's Human Resource Development Directorate, the study assistance and training benefit is for all permanent staff members. "Unisa provides study assistance to all levels of staff," she adds. However, Van der Berg also highlights that staff members who benefit greatly are the ones who are registered for Adult and Community Education and Training (ACET), that is previously known as Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET). "Once this group completes all their levels," says van der Berg, "they are assisted in enrolling for matric. Should they wish to further their studies, the university supports them financially through study assistance for formal qualifications."

In addition, Van der Berg says that study assistance and training funds form part of the Employee Value Proposition (EVP). "This is to ensure that the university can attract, grow, enhance performance and develop employees to meet the changing needs of universities and the new world of work," she says. Also, Van der Berg states that the opportunities provided by Unisa not only enhance and develop the competencies of the workforce, but it increases job satisfaction and engagement among employees.

"An engaged workforce can deliver on the university's strategic objectives and ensure that the university remains a competitive open distance learning institution in a world full of talent and critical skills," explains Van der Berg. Furthermore, she highlights that the Adult and Community Education and Training (ACET) programme is an empowerment programme aimed at supporting individuals who may not have had fair educational opportunities in the past. Through all these initiatives, the university manages to make a difference in the 150th milestone of transformation.

Van der Berg reflects that ACET has enrolled 34 employees on an empowerment programme thus far. The delegates of the programme completed and graduated successfully. The total spend of the project was R262,500, with an average of R7,822.50 per candidate in 2022. She notes that Unisans are not only granted funding opportunities, but they receive leave to attend formal classes and a few days to write their exams. In 2022, R 19,287,111 was spent on study assistance and training funds. She further underscores the importance of study assistance in supporting 11 Unisans with disabilities. 

Zodidi Pinde

Van der Berg says all Unisans who are granted study assistance for formal qualifications are bound to work back a period equivalent to the period for which the university provided the study assistance. "Should the employee resign within one year after completion of the module or formal qualification, they should repay the last year's cost of study on a pro-rata basis," she says.

One of the study assistance beneficiaries, Zodidi Pinde, lauds Unisa's training and development initiatives. Through the study assistance benefit, Pinde was encouraged to complete her BTech in Labour Relations Management and Postgraduate Diploma in Labour Relations Management. In addition, the university also paid for her ethics training, opening many doors for her career prospects.

As an ethics practitioner, Pinde says the university should reshape its identity as an inclusive vanguard in championing and operationalising ethics beyond the 150th anniversary in June. "Unisa should ensure that an ethical culture becomes the DNA of all the university systems and operations to promote integrity," she concludes.

* By Lesego Chiloane-Ravhudzulo, Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2023/03/02

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