HR Indaba Africa 2018: Monash South Africa measures its success by the impact of the graduates it produces 

Not being able to rely on government subsidies pushes MSA to be more innovative and impact-driven. 

With only days left before the inaugural HR Indaba, the anticipation from partners is palpable. In this article, we speak to MSA professor HB Klopper about why he is looking forward to the event

What makes MSA different from other higher education institutions?

"We are a private higher education institution, which excludes us from various government benefits afforded to public universities. That said, being privately owned allows us to look at our business and constantly think about what we do, how we do it and what impact we have. Focused on innovative problem-solving and facilitating effective learning, we try our best to quickly respond to what the market needs, whether that be through our thought leadership seminars, academic and applied research or the specific qualifications that we offer."

"What we do differently in terms of our actual programmes and courses are that we get industry involved from the onset to address current challenges. As such our curricula, assessments and discussions are based on adding value by solving real problems. That is because innovative problem solving, and the creation and transfer of knowledge using a single blended teaching model are key skills that are needed especially when one takes into consideration the future world of work and the impact that technology is having on every industry and profession."

Many HR leaders feel that the higher education sector produces graduates that are not entirely ready for the world of work. How does MSA get it right?

"It is, unfortunately, true that in many universities the emphasis still falls on outputs in terms of the number of graduates, and the number of research papers that are published. But those days are gone. Institutions of higher education have to move on the next phase by looking at the relevance of their curricula to equip learners for the world of work and the impact that their graduates are making, which is what we're doing at MSA. Students graduating is merely the beginning. We develop career-ready graduates who are innovative problem-solvers who can shape the future, shape industry and shape the world. For this reason, we measure the success of graduates once they have left the institution, once starting to make an impact. Things like the number of people they have gone on to employ, or whether they have done work that has impacted policy in some way or another, or if someone develops a business model that makes a lasting impact on the sector that they operate in are good examples."

"Those are the successes that we count as opposed to the sheer output. Of course, having graduates is a non-negotiable element because we need people with qualifications in the labour force, but what I'm saying is that we don't only use that as a measure of the quality of the education we offer. Since we at MSA embrace life-long learning, recognise constant changes in the industry and understand the challenges faced by students and working professionals, we design our qualifications and executive training programmes to unlock the full potential of our students, facilitated through effective learning utilising technology to support and enhance all learning opportunities."

Why have you decided to be involved in the HR Indaba?

"It's all part of our strategy to deliver relevant programmes and courses. We have to remain visible at these industry and professional events instead of sitting in our ivory towers and wait for the students to come to us. We have to actively be out there in the market demonstrating what we teach on our campus. The HR Indaba appeals to us particularly because it will allow engagement with the people that have first-hand knowledge of the required skills and knowledge graduates in South Africa must have. So it's also an opportunity to get a better understanding of what the market needs are because the HR practitioners are the ones who know exactly what the skills challenges are and what higher education institutions like ourselves could be doing better and should assist with."