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The importance of training in the 21st century

Speech by Liza van Wyk, CEO, AstroTech, December, 2006 Client Function

Good morning everybody. We are very pleased and honoured that you could join us for our end of year client function. I would like to share a few of the highlights of this year with you, including some exciting new plans AstroTech has for 2007.

At the recent Economist Roundtable, the deputy president (Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka) outlined dramatic economic progress in the 12 years of democracy and called this an Age of Hope. As business people, we have seen that it has been a period of incredible opportunity.
At AstroTech we are experiencing an almost doubling of course attendees and to maintain this we have been consistently revamping, honing and expanding our course offerings.

While traditionally in AstroTech we have focused on targeting our courses at management and professionals, in the past year we have experienced a clamour for courses that address team leaders, supervisors, administrators and personal assistants, in fact, one of our new courses introduced in 2006 for High Performance PAs and Administrators proved to be our most popular course this year consistently achieving approximately 3 times the interest of our other courses.

Recognising the demand for such mid-level practical skills based courses will see us launch a new business, BizTech early next year to cater for that demand.

Earlier this month, education minister, Naledi Pandor when introducing the Further Education and Training Colleges Bill, observed that “We are all doing training but somehow the trainees are not responding to economic demand.”

At AstroTech we design courses that boost the skills and knowledge levels of those at senior to middle executive level, we know that if courses do not respond to economic demand it is time and money wasted for you and us. We believe the rapid growth in our business shows that we are appropriately meeting the demands for quality that today’s business managers and professionals expect.

BizTech, the new company, aims to pick up on the sentiment expressed by the Minister as well as the demand that we have ourselves noticed in the workplace. That is, BizTech recognizes that if a senior manager or executive does not have excellent support staff and teams, he or she cannot succeed. And so the new range of courses for this business address skills deficiencies in existing support and administrative staff, as well as helping supervisors and graduates first entering the workplace to cope with a rapidly changing globalised work environment.

Whether it is helping the first time project manager or giving people management skills to technical people who for the first time have staff and not just computers to manage, AstroTech commits itself to being at the forefront of helping companies, parastatals and government to harvest the tremendous opportunities that now exist.

At the recent Economist Magazine Round Table in South Africa, deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka told delegates that last year South Africa's Gross Domestic Product grew at 4,9 percent and that since 2004 South Africa has created more than a million new jobs. She said that average wealth per person is rising at around three percent a year in South Africa.

Those figures show us that the need for training is significant. In this time of great new opportunities, we at AstroTech would like to thank you for offering us the ability to assist you to develop your staff and management for increasing success.

The Bureau for Economic Research at the University of Stellenbosch is forecasting GDP growth of over five percent for 2009, 2010 and 2011.
And, the deputy president told the Economist Roundtable that South Africa, “will reduce unemployment to 15 percent or lower by 2014.”
That is an incredible goal and what it means from each of us is deeper commitment to excellence in the workplace, to ongoing training and skills development, to the creation of an environment where each South African can become more than he or she ever dreamed they could be.

None of us should ever be satisfied with anything less than a commitment to excellence in the workplace and should know that this will have ripples that spread across the economy, helping build our country.

We have discovered too that in our courses there is a personal quest for values, ethical conduct and ways in which to deliver more than just the expected in our personal and workplace conduct.

This is definitely a time of hope and opportunity when dreams have the capacity to be realised. We thank each one of you for partnering with us to help us and you ensure that no dream is ever unrealistic and that opportunity is within the grasp of those who seek it.
I thank you.