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The ‘must-haves’ in your skills line-up The last few years have seen the term “soft skills” feature prominently in a wide range of reports, articles and studies that focus on the workplace and the future of work. And for good reason – these skills are quickly becoming the most essential ingredients to long-term career success.
Soft skills According to Wikipaedia, soft skills are “a combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career attributes, social intelligence and emotional intelligence quotients … that enable people to navigate their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills”. When hiring, most employers will be looking for much more from you than the hard skills you’ve acquired and learnt through a qualification or training. They will also be looking for a set of soft skills they think will make you the most suitable match for both the job and the company.
Must-haves Depending on where you look, the list of musthave soft skills for today’s study and work places can be exceptionally long and highly specific. However, most lists feature the following soft skills (or some variation): ¡¡Adaptability and flexibility, ¡¡Ability to communicate effectively, ¡¡Ability to co-operate and coordinate with others, ¡¡Good listening skills, ¡¡Confidence,
¡¡Critical thinking, ¡¡Creativity, ¡¡Emotional intelligence, ¡¡Problem-solving skills, ¡¡Strong work ethic, ¡¡Positive attitude, ¡¡Time management abilities / skills, ¡¡Ability to accept and learn from criticism, ¡¡Working well under pressure.
Critical for students and workplace entrants While some companies may have viewed soft skills as “nice-to-haves” in the past, rapid and dramatic changes in the jobs arena are making them absolutely critical. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution kicks into gear and the world of work continues to be impacted by the global Covid-19 pandemic, jobs are changing, some are being done away with and entirely new ones are being created. New skills sets will be needed – not only to do the jobs of the future (hard skills) but also, and perhaps more importantly, to be successful in the current changing and evolving jobs market. In this fast-approaching working environment of almost constant flux, skills like adaptability, flexibility, creativity and problem-solving are going to be critical. And young people considering furthering their studies at university or college, should also be developing their soft skills in preparation for entering the workplace. These soft skills will also stand students in good stead as they progress through and complete their studies.
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TOP FIVE CAREER FIELDS IN SOUTH AFRICA WHEN it comes to choosing the best job for you, most recruiters advise that the best strategy is to select a field or job that fits well with your skills, passions, personality, strengths and values. However, for many, practical considerations such as opportunity for career progression and earning potential growth are also extremely important. Bearing these factors in mind and using a variety of lists (including CareerJunction’s Salary Review report, Jobmail’s 10 Best-paying Jobs list and Buzz South Africa’s Highest-paying Jobs In South Africa list), this is a list of South Africa’s top five career fields that rank highly in terms of demand, variety of available jobs and earnings.
ENGINEERING Civil and structural engineers come out as the top earners, with environmental engineers coming in second, followed closely by electrical and mechanical engineers. Petroleum engineers feature prominently on top-paying lists. An engineering speciality that is on the rise – both in popularity and anticipated demand – is robotic engineering.
INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY Many of the jobs in this sector are among the highest paid and most in demand in the workplace. Top earners in this sector include technical and business architects, IT managers, software developers, and systems and business analysts.
FINANCE The highest-paying jobs in this sector are those of corporate lender and senior financial manager. Actuaries, cost and management accountants, as well those in senior auditing and taxation positions also command highly attractive salaries.
MEDICAL In the medical field, doctors and specialist physicians are the top dogs in terms of earnings with anaesthetists and neurosurgeons generally at the very top. The highest earning professionals in this sector include hospital managers, pharmacists, dieticians or nutritionists and therapists.
MANAGEMENT People in senior management in the following sectors command among the highest-pay packets: ¡¡Building and construction (building project managers) ¡¡Warehousing and logistics (logistics managers) ¡¡ICT (IT managers, project administrators and managers, business and technical architects) ¡¡Medical health (GPs,specialist physicians and senior hospital managers) ¡¡Marketing (product managers and marketing managers) ¡¡Sales (sales managers, high-performing sales consultants) ¡¡Manufacturing and assembly (plant managers) ¡¡At the executive management level, the highestpaying jobs in South Africa in 2016 were chief investment officer, legal service director, IT director, financial systems manager, assistant to CEO (executive and management), corporate director, market segmentation director, top research and development executive and finance executive (accounting and finance). Directors and executive managers are among the highest earners across all sectors.
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Exploring the galaxy with Dr Nndanganeni Dr Rendani Nndanganeni loves researching the impact of radiation on aviation.
Nearly 10 years of tertiary study and a passion for physical science earned Dr Rendani Nndanganeni her dream job as a space science researcher at the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). SANSA is a government agency that reports to the Department of Science and Technology, and is part of the worldwide network of space weather centres and magnetic observatories. It plays an important part in monitoring the near-Earth space environment. In simple terms, the agency works mainly with satellites. After completing matric in rural Limpopo, Dr Nndanganeni’s decade of tertiary study began. Today, she holds a PhD in Space Physics. “I developed a love for physics while in my first year; that is when I got to better understand the physical science concepts I was taught in high school,” she said. She was fortunate enough to get a National Student Financial Aid Scheme loan that paid for her undergraduate studies, before being granted a SANSA bursary. She joined SANSA in 2016 as a space science researcher. Although her job is a little multi-faceted and she has worked on a number of research projects, Dr
Nndanganeni is currently researching the impact that space weather has on aviation. Space weather refers to the changing conditions on the sun and in space that can influence the performance of the technology we use on Earth. “We look at important areas in aviation, such as how space weather impacts communication in the aviation industry, navigation of aircraft and the impact of radiation in space,” she explained. Dr Nndanganeni is based at the regional warning centre in Hermanus in the Western Cape. She encourages young people to consider a career in space science because there are many opportunities, thanks to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). “Over and above the careers that are already available at SANSA, there will always be a need to innovate new technology and develop new ways of doing things. That means we will always need professionals who can make this possible,” she said. Dr Nndanganeni advised young people interested in a career in space research to take up mathematics and physical science as main subjects in high school. * This article first appeared in Vuk’uzenzele newspaper.
Protecting endangered plants from extinction Hlengiwe Mtshali is on a mission to safeguard threatened plant species.
Numerous plant species are threatened and endangered, due to changes in their environment caused by human development, invasion by alien plant species and changes in weather patterns as a result of global warming. “The extinction of plant species will have a domino effect on man and animals, both of which could run out of food and medicinal plants,” said Hlengiwe Mtshali, a Red List scientist at the South African National Biodiversity Institute (Sanbi). Her job is to protect threatened species, and she is one of four people at Sanbi responsible for assessing the conservation status of South African plants. “Red Listing is the process of assessing species’ risks of extinction and I am part of the team that does this. As a Red List scientist, I am mainly responsible for assessing the conservation status of South African plants, using International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) guidelines,” she explained.
Career path Mtshali began her career as an intern for a Department of Science and Technology and National Research Foundation programme, at Sanbi’s KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) herbarium in 2010. During the programme, she was responsible for herbarium specimen processing, plant identification, data capturing, physical curation and filing herbarium specimens.
In 2013, she took part in a two-year Groen Sebenza internship with the Botanical Society of South Africa (BotSoc). Then in 2015, BotSoc offered Mtshali a contract position and she did an online IUCN Red List training course.
Education Mtshali holds a Master of Sciences in Botany degree from the University of the Free State, having also completed her Bachelors and Honours degrees there. “I wanted to study environmental management, which deals with trying to prevent ecological disasters from affecting the globe by ensuring that we leave the planet in a healthy state for future generations and help preserve all forms of life, including marine life and vegetation. “However, in the year I arrived at the university, it was no longer offering the course. This meant I had to change the degree to something closely aligned to environmental management. I opted for botany, a scientific study of plants and their economic importance,” Mtshali said. In high school, Mtshali studied agricultural science and geography. She said learners who want to follow in her career footsteps should study mathematics, chemistry, physics and life sciences at high school level. * This article first appeared in Public Sector Manager magazine.
The power of engineering and technology
THE advent of new technologies, coupled with the merger of information and communications technology and engineering, is presenting opportunities to advance new tools that can be used to better our world. Dr Tlotleng is a senior researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). His job focuses on laser materials processing with a specific focus on laser metals, 3D printing, laser in-situ alloy development and functional graded material structures. As part of his job, Dr Tlotleng works on laser engineered net shaping and other directed energy deposition laser platforms. Dr Tlotleng’s job includes using 3D printing technology to create materials that have various reallife applications. His doctoral studies, done through a partnership with the University of Johannesburg and the CSIR, discovered how titanium implants can grow human tissue, therefore avoiding corrosion over time.
New techniques “My approach was to coat the titanium implant with artificial bone material or ceramics and test to see if it could show bio-activities and integration thereof,” said Dr Tlotleng. He said the discovery could help prevent the corrosion of implants, which often leads to carcinogenic effects.
Innovative thinking Dr Tlotleng believes that the connectivity brought about by the 4IR can be a game changer, allowing problems to be timeously identified and resolved. “If proper means are put in place, we could achieve deliverables every second,” said Dr Tlotleng. He explained that the 4IR has the capabilities to identify, in real time, that a clinic in Lotlhakane, for instance, doesn’t have Panado and then also in real time, to track where the Panado order is. Dr Tlotleng matriculated at Letsatsing Science High School, a maths and science specialisation school. After high school, Dr Tlotleng completed a Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science with Honours in Applied Chemistry and Master of Science in Chemical Engineering at the University of the Witwatersrand before going to the CSIR, where he completed his Doctoral Degree through the University of Johannesburg. “I always knew I wanted to be a doctor in science or engineering, but not medicine,” said Tlotleng. He is now determined to earn the honorific of ‘professor’ by the end of 2020. Dr Monnamme Tlotleng holds a trophy that he printed using a laser 3D printer.
* This article first appeared in Public Sector Manager magazine.
Steering a pioneering course in the ocean
Lieutenant Gillian Malouw is exploring new depths in the ocean.
At only 29 years of age, Lieutenant Gillian Malouw last year became the first woman in South Africa able to navigate a submarine. She is a submarine combat officer in the South African Navy, a career Malou says requires unflinching dedication and a serious work ethic. Born in Port Elizabeth’s Schauderville township, Malouw navigates petrol and diesel-electric Type 209 SSK submarines, the South African Navy’s submarine of choice. She has sailed the length of South Africa’s coastline in the SAS Spioenkop, one of four Valour-class frigates that the navy operates. Malouw first considered a career in the navy when she joined the South African Sea Cadets, a non-profit organisation which recruits young people into the navy. She was in Grade 5 at Abraham Levy Primary School. She already knew that she wanted to join the navy when she was in Grade 9 at St James Secondary School. “I liked the whole idea.” Malouw joined the navy in 2010 and underwent an introductory course in her first year. It was not her initial plan to be part of the submarine crew, but during her first-year presentations, she found it both interesting and challenging. Before Malouw could join the submarines team, she had to complete a three-year degree in Technology and Defence Management at the Military Academy, a satellite military campus of
Stellenbosch University. After completing her tertiary studies, she was moved to Simon’s Town where she did a course on navigating sailing ships. “In 2014, I came to Simon’s Town to do a yearlong navigation course for combat officers. This was essentially the beginning of my career at sea as a combat officer. It was important because for me to qualify for the submarines team, I had to qualify on a surface vessel.” In 2015, Malouw started her theoretical and practical training as a combat officer working on submarines. She completed the training in 2018, and was the first woman in South Africa to complete the course. Malouw also holds the bridge watchkeeping qualification, earned on SAS Spioenkop. She also has sea time on the mine countermeasures platform SAS Umhloti, where she earned her Officer of the Day certificate. The magnitude of Malouw’s achievement has earned her the respect of her fellow submarine combat officers. She said whoever completes the course is tough, regardless of their gender. “With the training that we went through, people see your work ethic and not your gender. The men respect me, just like any other officer,” she said. * This article first appeared in Public Sector Manager magazine.
Managing traffic in the sky She is just 30, but Mokgadi Mkhize has the expertise needed to help aircraft pilots ensure the safety of passengers when taking off and landing. The air traffic controller works for Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) SOC Limited and is based at Africa’s busiest airport, OR Tambo International Airport in Ekurhuleni. “This is exactly what I wanted to do after completing matric. I researched jobs in the aviation industry when I was in Grade 10 and developed great interest in this industry. I knew that I had to pass mathematics, physical science and English very well in order to meet the minimum requirements,” said Mkhize, who grew up in Groblersdal in Limpopo. Her day-to-day tasks include air traffic management, monitoring information regarding weather patterns, checking equipment serviceability and communicating with pilots and other air traffic controllers in airports across the country and abroad. She also relies on the air traffic controller who was on duty before her to relay information to her so that she can start her shift knowing what is happening in the air space. She does the same handover at the end of her shift.
Mokgadi Mkhize has allowed aviation to take her to new heights.
“I use all the information that I read on the screen to inform, advise and instruct pilots in order for them to transport passengers safely. We communicate with the pilots using two-way radio communication. Safety is our number one priority,” she explained. “At OR Tambo International Airport, we have several of the world’s largest passenger airliner, the Airbus A380, which land on a daily basis at our airport. Each A380 has the capacity to carry about 850 passengers, which means that if I am controlling two A380s, I am responsible for about 1 700 lives. There is no room for error,” she said.
Women making their mark Mkhize said the aviation industry as a whole is still predominately male-dominated, but over the past decade, her company has been ensuring that more women are given the opportunity to enter the aviation sector. “I personally see a lot of transformation with regard to that and I feel that I am part of that change,” she said. * This article first appeared in Public Sector Manager magazine.
Young production scientist
reeling in success There’s definitely nothing fishy about successful production scientist Dr Molatelo Madibana, who is the first researcher in South Africa to test Ulva seaweed, herbal products and brewer’s yeast in the diet of dusky kob (Argyromus japonicas), a migratory, spawning fish. NSFAS paid Dr Madibana’s fees for three years and he passed all his courses. “Life was in equilibrium and the scheme set my career’s foundation. As long as I passed, the NSFAS converted some of the money into a bursary.” In 2006, when he graduated from the University of Limpopo with a Bachelor of Science degree, he only owed R20 000. In 2007, Dr Madibana obtained an Honours degree in aquaculture. Soon thereafter he received a bursary from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Norwegian government for a Master of Science degree in aquatic medicine at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences. He graduated in 2010 and returned to South Africa, when DAFF snapped him up for a two-year contract to work in its Aquaculture Research Directorate. When the contract ended, DAFF employed him permanently.
Career highlight Dr Madibana obtained his PhD from North-West University. Under the supervision of world-renowned animal scientist Professor Victor Mlambo, his PhD thesis was on the effect of dietary additives on growth performance, gut histology, blood parameters and tissue nutrient composition of South African Dusky kob. Dr Madibana commenced his career as a production scientist at DAFF in 2010, focusing on fish nutrition and conducting feeding trials on juvenile Dusky kob. He has formulated a diet that contains seaweed, to test if the fish will still grow optimally with less fishmeal in their diet. His mandate at DAFF is to help grow the aquaculture industry through research. Over the past few years, he has formed
Dr Molatelo Madibana has overcome the odds to make a name for himself as a production scientist.
many collaborations and relationships with role-players in the farming sector, including farmers and aspiring farmers, academics and government officials. “A career in aquaculture or agriculture is what this country needs at a time when the economy is moribund and we rely heavily on imported foods that put a strain on poor households. “South Africa’s youth needs to realise that a career in agriculture is not a shame or taboo, but a step towards ensuring foodsecure countries.” * This article first appeared in Public Sector Manager magazine
Limpopo crimefighter reaches new heights WARRANT Officer Tebogo Mamogale from the South African Police Service’s (SAPS) Polokwane Air Wing, is the only qualified female commercial helicopter pilot in Limpopo. Mamogale spends her days working with her colleagues to co-ordinate crime-fighting operations, including chasing cash-in-transit robbers and doing search-and-rescue operations. “We fight different crimes with our on-the-ground police members. We assist them in places they cannot reach due to terrain challenges. We also give clear direction to on-ground members when tracking and searching for cars and suspects,” she said. Mamogale’s job is exciting, as it changes hourly. “In the SAPS, you cannot assume what your day will look like or choose your calls, because we get different calls for different crimes,” said Mamogale.
Pursuing her passion Mamogale’s passion for flying started at a young age. “I did a lot of airport visits for exposure, conducted aviation research and sought career guidance from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) when I was in high school,” she said. Mamogale trained as a cabin crew member at the Quantum Aviation Academy in Benoni. She then studied for a Diploma in Travel and Tourism at Rosebank College’s Pretoria campus and is now studying towards a Diploma in Safety Management at the University of South Africa. Mamogale started her
career at the SAPS as a cabin crew member and used the opportunity to learn as much as she could about flying an aircraft. “Immediately after matric, I pursued aviation, trained and graduated as a cabin crew member and then joined the SAPS as a cabin crew member for government ministers and high-profile SAPS delegates,” said Mamogale. Before being allowed to fly, Mamogale had to pass rigorous tests with the SAPS’s Air Wing training team. She trained to be a pilot at the National Airways Corporation in Germiston, obtaining a student pilot licence. She obtained her private pilot licence, before obtaining her commercial pilot licence. “A private pilot licence gives you an opportunity to do both theory and practical training as a helicopter pilot and fly privately; not for remuneration,” Mamogale explained. She had to complete various modules, including navigation, flight planning, meteorology, radio aids, human performance, air law, instruments and helicopter electronics. “Aviation on its own is a challenging environment because it’s a male-dominated industry, which puts more pressure on female pilots to stand out and prove themselves.” With Mamogale’s career on an upward trajectory, she intends staying on this course and now plans to pursue a PhD in Aviation Management. * This article first appeared in Public Sector Manager magazine.
Sengo dives right into a man’s world Makhosazana Sengo is up to the challenge of succeeding in the male-dominated world of civil diving Makhosazana Sengo is an acting civil diver for Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA). She is holding her own in a male-dominated world, while staring down gender stereotypes and ocean predators at the same time. While coming nose to snout with a great white shark would be enough to turn most people away from a diving career, this was not the case for Sengo. “In that moment I was very scared, but I overcame my fear by descending again. Now, I am so used to seeing sharks during dives,” Sengo said. “I knew from the beginning that I had to be aware of the dangers and risks in this job. I also knew that I was entering a male-dominated environment, and I had to overcome all of these challenges so that I could pursue my dream,” she added.
What does a Transnet civil diver do? As an acting civil diver, Sengo’s duties include working underwater with technical surface supply equipment; conducting underwater welding, cutting and grinding; underwater quay wall inspection and repairs; underwater maintenance of marine crafts and inspections, using subsea project equipment; general inspections and underwater photography; and participating in surface quay wall furniture maintenance.
“My work environment is never the same; it changes every day. And each day I learn something new. That’s the exciting part of my job,” she said. Sengo has Open Water Diver, Advanced Diver and Rescue Diver qualifications under her belt. She has also participated in – and passed – a twomonth Class 3 and 4 Inshore Civil Diver training programme with Seadog Commercial Diving in Saldanha Bay. The mother of one is not content with slowing down and intends taking her higher education even further. She is working towards a degree in Civil Engineering and plans to pursue training as a Class 2 and diver medical technician. Sengo is aware that her role at the TNPA turns the spotlight on the lack of women in the profession, but wants her journey to serve as inspiration to other young women to follow in her footsteps. “You need to be passionate about something in your life, to dream big and believe in yourself. I want to guide everyone who needs my help. I was scared in the beginning, but I overcame all of my fears and I am reaching my goals one by one,” she said. * This article first appeared in Public Sector Manager magazine.
Vutlhari Chauke is no ordinary farmer, she’s an agri-preneur Agri-preneur Vutlhari Chauke is successfully growing her business in the male-dominated world of farming SHE is as hip as any young person her age. She wears a weave, earrings and trendy sneakers. But Vutlhari Chauke is no ordinary youngster. She is one of the country’s few female farmers and the owner of VT Harvest, a Mogale city-based supplier of herbs such as baby fennel, coriander and wild rocket. This growing business supplies various outlets in Gauteng. Armed with an MBA from the Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership and extensive experience in the corporate world, Chauke ventured into farming after identifying a gap for black women entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector. She spent months visiting farms to establish the most profitable ways of managing an agricultural products supply company, and in 2017 decided to take the plunge. “It gives me joy to contribute to changing the trajectory of many impoverished families in communities where I operate,” Chauke says. “I want to build a legacy for my children and create employment opportunities.” Chauke is also not an ordinary farmer. She comes from a middle-class family in Limpopo, with a computer programmer for a father and an educator for a mother. She says her experiences in life have
shaped her determination to succeed. “My parents separated when I was four years old,” she explains. “I learnt independence and resourcefulness from that experience. I believe in myself. I am audacious and hardworking.” Despite their separation, Chauke’s parents were unified in insisting on her education. Their encouragement paid off when she obtained five distinctions in matric before going on to study at the Central University of Technology in the Free State. Trusting in her work ethic and determination, Chauke found it relatively easy to make the switch to her new chosen profession of agriculture. She says she has been able to grow the business because of her experience in the corporate world, where she worked as a business development executive. While her farming journey has not been an easy one, Chauke credits the previous owner of the farm her company now owns for mentoring her. “I learnt that in order for my venture to be successful, I needed to be willing to get my hands dirty and not wait for someone to do things for me.” Today, Chauke calls herself an agri-preneur. And her advice to other budding agri-preneurs is simple: “Don’t be afraid to fail”.
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