News on Sunday

Roland Dubois : “Shelf life of traditional skills set will be reduced over the coming decades” 

The first ever “Training and Employment Magazine Mauritius” was recently launched by Roland Dubois. This magazine, as stated by Roland Dubois, is targeted towards the youth, unemployed or already on the labour market, their parents, employees, teachers and trainers as well as employers. In this interview, Roland Dubois elucidates the importance of e-learning and its collaboration with Udemy, biggest provider of online learning in the world. 

How could the magazine bring a change for the youth and the unemployed?
Past experience has shown a chronic lack of information related to competencies needed by employers from the youth on their coming onto the labour market. I have personally witnessed difficulties encountered by most of our youth – they are at a complete loss when joining the labour force. This has been major skills mismatch between qualified youth and what employers need, leading to youth unemployment. 

This training and employment journal aims to bridge that gap whilst being dedicated to training and employment. It will provide every Mauritian sufficient and necessary information to choose the type of skills he/she needs to thrive in this new environment. It will present information about the different sectors of the economy and their requirements as far as competencies are required with respect to prevailing jobs and new emerging ones, given the exponential technological change looming ahead with the fourth industrial revolution. It will bring a level of connectivity.  

Can you elaborate on the collaboration with Udemy?
Udemy is the biggest provider of online learning in the world. It was founded in 2010 with the aim to improve people’s life through learning, regardless of their starting points. Udemy is a market-based online learning platform that, as at January 2019, had over 40 million registered users across 192 countries that benefit from a wide library of 100,000 courses taught in over 50 languages by 45,000 instructors who are experts in their fields. Since its inception, there have been more than 190 million course enrolments.    

A protocol was signed between Udemy and Roland Dubois Consulting Ltd (RDCL) in December 2018, designating RDCL as the exclusive representative of the online learning provider in Mauritius. As a result, Udemy which was already present in Mauritius through the Udemy for Consumer strategy (UFC), wants to extend its presence through its UFG and UFB strategies. These latter strategies provide access up to 3,000 shortlisted best courses out of the 100,000 developed for government and business community against a subscription rate which is very affordable. We are still working on market adoption strategies through the Civil Service College of Mauritius (CSCM) and Business Mauritius.

In this package, online monitoring and supervision are also provided to ensure that the staff registered are actually following the courses on which they have been registered together with continuous assessment through experiential & interactive learning opportunities via exercises, quizzes, practice tests, frequently asked questions (FAQ) and instructor questions and answers (Q&A), among others. A certificate of completion is issued at the end of the course. Those courses go through a rigorous internal quality review process and are vetted by around 40 million people the world over.  

Governments, businesses, employees and youth cannot keep pace with the rapid evolution of skills needed and training institutions do not have the bandwidth or expertise to deliver what is needed."

How can the Mauritian take benefit from this collaboration?
To start with, the Civil Service can certainly stand to benefit tremendously from this collaboration. Obviously, traditional classroom teaching cannot match the demand of the large number of civil servants. It must be pointed out that the Singapore model is 70% online learning, 20% blended learning and only 10% classroom based. In that same light, a partnership with Udemy may help the Civil Service College of Mauritius to extend its training exponentially with the E-Learning as provided by Udemy for Government. 

In parallel, the Tertiary Institutions can also benefit from this collaboration by integrating Udemy’s modules in their courses where there is a lack of expertise. These courses are available both in online and offline modes. They are Modular format courses that come in bite-sized, easy to digest lectures where learners can pick and choose the sections that are most relevant to their needs. 

The business community can also benefit from the Udemy for Business strategy (UFB) as mentioned earlier. The mindset of Mauritians has to change if they want to continue to stay relevant in the job market being permeated with fast technological innovation. They have to develop a learning culture in this technological disruption. Big data, AI, Fin Tech are everywhere. Young people embrace technology more rapidly without hesitation.

What type of online courses can we expect in the future?
To start with, the contents of the courses offered take input from student ratings, customer feedback/request, market place demand and other factors to replace underperforming or low-quality courses, update courses with new content, and add courses for additional variety or new topics. The courses are kept up-to-date with new advances in the topic or updated based on learner feedback, so subscribers always have the latest and greatest content available. 

Why is E-learning important for businesses, employees and the youth alike?
Governments, businesses, employees and youth cannot keep pace with the rapid evolution of skills needed and training institutions do not have the bandwidth or expertise to deliver what is needed. Shelf life of traditional skills set will be reduced over the coming decades. As a result, individuals will transition more than ever between careers during their lifetime. This underscores the necessity of lifelong learning for all. It seems the tech skills gap is not as simple as coding skills but reflects thousands of micro-level skills gaps. The only alternative is therefore E- Learning.

Otherwise, companies are still complaining about young graduates who are not ready for work as they do not possess the skills and abilities they are looking for. Why is such a situation still persisting?
Skills mismatch is mostly because of the wrong choice of studies due to lack of information, lack of knowledge of the labour market, training being delivered in isolation from industries, poor mastery of the most important business languages, poor personal skills, poor interpersonal skills, poor leadership skills, amongst others. At the end of the day, too many youths graduate in more or less the same fields of studies such as Management, Human Resource Management, Languages, and so on, which are not required by the industry. Hence, they are unemployable.

How can we remedy the situation?
Many schemes have been introduced by the Government for the past years, namely the Youth Employment Programme, The Dual Training Training Programme, The National Skills Development Plan, the Graduate Scheme, to beat the problem of unemployment. These schemes have been successful up to certain extent. 

Do you believe it is high time to review the courses being offered at tertiary level?
In December 2012, the Economic and Financial Measures (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill made provision for a Consultative Committee at the level of all the different Tertiary Education Institutions which shall ensure ongoing collaboration between them and the private sector and be responsible for advising the TEIs on –
(a) the development of programmes of study and research, in line with the needs of the labour market;
(b) the relevance of the curricula of programmes of study to the labour market needs; and
(c) placements, internships and research.

In your opinion, what are the other areas of employment opportunities today?
Since the world is becoming impacted upon by the unprecedented rate of change of technology which will bring with it massive change in the way we do business, new skills in existing jobs, routine jobs will be robotized, and new jobs will be created. The fourth Industrial Revolution is forcing companies to re-examine the way they do business.  

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