Mentoring plays unique “real life” role in training 4

Mentoring during training ensures  focus and streamlines information overload while also avoiding mistakes of the past by identifying barriers, said Marius Meyer, CEO of the  South African Board for People Practice, speaking at the BHP Billiton third Skills Development Summit at the CSIR convention centre in Pretoria.


He added that mentoring offers a unique “learning by real-life, on-the-job experience, rather than a theoretical understanding gained via a classroom”.


Meyer emphasised that mentoring is an effective way to help employees improve their essential skills, and idoes not require a lot of resources to be successful. It can also reinforce strong relationships among employees, support a learning culture in the workplace, and increase productivity. There are also many benefits for the mentee and mentor. It can:

  • Assist with career development
  • Capitalise on experience
  • Avoid being side-tracked
  • Speed up accelerated learning


Jane Woodhouse, business development manager at Tshikululu Social Investment reiterated that training should be focused on the skills required either by the employees or the community instead of training for the sake of it. She also highlighted that businesses can use their CSI initiative to create jobs. This however requires an analysis of the needs of the communities.


South Africa’s rural and historically disadvantaged communities face multiple challenges, and research has shown that community-level CSI interventions work best when they address more than one community need and are driven by the community themselves. By doing this businesses would be sure to create sustainable jobs and communities that are free from dependency. Community-based enterprise development is a hand-up not a hand-out.


Speaking for the South African Maritime Authority (SAMSA), Sobantu Tilay said, SAMSA commissioned a maritime skills study used to determine the direction the country should take in order to sustain the maritime industry. The following challenges were identified by the study:

  • The need for a maritime skills strategy
  • A more realistic alignment between the skills production and consumption
  • A better engagement between the industry and government
  • The need for policy review to assist the growth of the maritime industry
  • Increased awareness for the existence of the maritime industry


Other Challenges raised by the study were that the quality of schools and the teaching are generally less than adequate. In response to this SAMSA has partnered with the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal Provincial Governments to create awareness about maritime careers and to set up a network of maritime high schools in port cities. The initiative is being extended to the Northern Cape and Gauteng. The initial phase (2011/2012) includes strengthening the existing maritime high schools (Western Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal), partnering with maths and science focused schools, and sponsoring learners.


In response to insufficient infrastructure and skills capacity for skills development, SAMSA has intervened by partnering with and assisting the two universities of technology offering seafaring maritime studies by conducting maritime career awareness campaigns, offering bursaries, and topping up salaries for the lecturers in order to attract quality teaching staff.


SAMSA stressed the importance of engaging tertiary institutions on the material needed to be taught at these institutions in order to advance skills development.

For the Skills Development Summit

Dylan James, Director, Skills Development Summit


Tel                        +27 21 681 7000

Mobil                    +27 84 244 6389


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4 thoughts on “Mentoring plays unique “real life” role in training

  • Judith Oakley-Webb

    I agree that Mentoring is critical in the workplace but I would like to pose the question: is big business tapping into the enormous resource that is available in our retired community? There are numerous highly skilled individuals in the 55 to 70 year age group that have so much to offer, and are keen to work in their later life.


    They are keen to consult, mentor, work part-time and yet when I have trawled the internet and other resouces for job opportunities for retirees, opportunities appear to be extremely rare. We have highly skilled Engineers, Accountants, Artisans and many others within our grasp!


    I would like to get some feedback on this and find out if there are any resources available specifically for job searching in retirement.

  • Dylan James Post author

    Mentoring is highly underrated in the workplace. I am bringing a mentoring aspect into the Tomorrow’s Leaders Convention as well – and am going to look into getting a conversation started in Achiever magazine.

    Mentoring, apprenticeships and all other platforms that allow for knowledge to be transferred to a new generation should be championed! And I say this as a product of apprenticeship and mentoring!

  • Beverley Busisiwe Mokoto

    I agree with the writer’s comments. It’s about time that mentoring is taken more seriously as it is an important grooming tool for the workforce. During mentoring, it’s not just about skills transfer. It’s also about the values and ethics that a mentor reflects and transfer to the person mentored.