Turning FET Colleges into Centres of Innovation – follow up to the FET Conference 29-30 August 2012.

While one cannot argue that skills development is crucial for any country to alleviate poverty, and become and maintain competitive in today’s ever-changing environment, we have no idea what skills will be required in the future.

By the time learners studying for a technical qualification reach third year, half of what they learned in first year will be out of date! And of those now in Grade 10, at least half will find employment in a job that right now, doesn’t exist; half of the remainder will become entrepreneurs.

So how can we prepare learners to cope in this environment?

There is one skill – rarely taught – that helps people adapt to, and deal with change. It has also been identified as the most important skill required by future leaders and entrepreneurs*. That skill is the ability to think creatively, because only through creative thinking can we find new solutions to complex issues.

Sadly, despite the fact that all human beings are born creative, many people ‘unlearn’ this vital skill. Ask a group of kindergarten children if they are creative and you’ll find a sea of hands go up; ask the same question of a group of adults and a few tentative hands might be raised.

The good news is that creative thinking is a skill that can and must be taught, and FET Colleges are perfectly placed to do just this.

Imagine an environment where technical and other ‘hard’ skills are complemented with ‘soft’ skills training that fosters and develops innovative thinking in learners. Imagine an environment where learners explore possibilities for new ways of working, with each other and with their educators. Imagine an environment where learners become engaged in their studies instead of bored. And imagine how much better equipped these learners will be when seeking employment or starting their own businesses.

Impossible? Perhaps, but as Albert Einstein once said, “Most people see what is, and never see what can be.” It begins with imagination, itself a creative process and we need to start by teaching everyone – learners and educators – how to think innovatively.

For more information about training in creative thinking, go to www.innoventure.co.za. Alternatively call Tim Malone on 082 553 4478 or email tim.malone@innoventure.co.za

*IBM Global CEO Study 2010.

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