One of Africa’s leading science and business universities National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo Zimbabwe pioneered the development of widespread acquisition of practical skills through the implementation of the degree programs with a mandatory one year industrial attachment.
This was a critical and transformational approach to higher education as it immediately equipped students with practical real world work experience and most graduates easily secured jobs after completion of studies. But the times have changed the jobs are no longer readily available therefore Universities need to increasingly focus on moulding students into Entrepreneurs.
This could include creation of technology parks and business incubation centres which will naturally form part of the entrepreneurial infrastructure which is missing in most of Africa generally and Zimbabwe in particular.
According to Wikipedia “Business incubators are programs designed to accelerate the successful development of entrepreneurial companies through an array of business support resources and services, developed and orchestrated by incubator management and offered both in the incubator and through its network of contacts. Incubators vary in the way they deliver their services, in their organizational structure, and in the types of clients they serve.”
These services offered by Business incubators are clearly needed and can be offered through-out the country from the various Universities. Universities and Technical colleges must take the lead in this area as graduates transform from job seekers to job creators.
The Zimbabwe Educational system needs to step up and now move with the times and evolve to start churning out graduates who are ready to create jobs and not seek jobs which are non-existent. This is not an easy challenge but it can be done over the medium term with proper planning and strategic focus.
Zimbabwe’s educational system needs to be in line with the national vision of economic empowerment and indigenization. The system needs to be properly developed and enshrine values which do not encourage looting, grabbing or seizing businesses as a way to acquire wealth. This has to be done at an early age and through out the educational system which will make it clear that economic empowerment is here to stay but it must be achieved to legitimate and acceptable means which individuals properly equipped with entrepreneurship skills backed up by an appropriate entrepreneurial infrastructure.
Some of the challenges as witnessed by business invasions and enterprise disturbances are a result of limited information and education on how one can legally and legitimately build a business even when faced by an uneven playing field.
It is clear there are informational gaps and execution shortfalls which has led to a majority of individuals to believe that the only way into big business is through political patronage and other dubious means. These gaps have to be addressed in form of proper education curriculum which focuses on creating entrepreneurial candidates who will become part of the entrepreneurial infrastructure.
Such educational programs can not assume that everyone can be an entrepreneur but should give every student a chance to choose that path and also acquire the critical entrepreneurial skills at early stages such that once one completes studies they have all options on the table.
Entrepreneurial skills are now a critical survival skill in the current Zimbabwe especially given the drive towards economic empowerment. The idea of economic empowerment is ideal and noble but can not succeed if the potential beneficiaries are not properly trained and equipped to handle the challenges that comes with running any enterprise. Any effort which ignores the need for the educational system to close informational and skills gap will result in the program failing and creating a vicious poverty circle instead of empowering.
Source – ZimDaily by GILBERT MUPONDA