The Durban University of Technology (DUT) hosted a three-day online World of Work Careers Expo 2020, with 50 companies participating from Tuesday, 27 October 2020 to Thursday, 29 October 2020.
For the first time in the history of the university, the eWOW Expo was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was DUT’s way to ensure that the show goes on despite the COVID-19 challenges. It was also hosted to celebrate the success of the previous expos, in the interest of all the important stakeholders, including the university and its graduates.
It is one of the premier annual events on the calendar of the university that brings together DUT’s important stakeholders such as the leading Representatives of Commerce, Industry, Government Sectors, SETAs, and other relevant Stakeholders.
DUT’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Engagement, Professor Sibusiso Moyo took to the online podium to introduce the DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Zizwe Mthembu.
Prof Moyo said that Prof Mthembu is actually a mathematician who has served DUT since 2016, when he was appointed.
“Prof Mthembu has served in several senior leadership and executive portfolios within the South African higher education system. He brings to the university a wealth of experience. During his tenure at DUT, he has delivered on a number of things, more importantly the ENVISION 2030, which is our guiding strategy and which also talks to our associated leading values under the perspectives of Stewardship. When we talk about the values at DUT we talk about: transparency, honesty, integrity, respect and accountability, which we believe that in the partnerships and platforms we share with World of Work partners and industry partners that our students will learn some of these values through their experiences they get by working for these companies,” said Prof Moyo.
She urged all partners to join DUT to skill, reskill and produce agile, adaptive, innovative and entrepreneurial graduates from the 31 000 students they engage with annually.
In welcoming the online guests, Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Thandwa Mthembu said that this career fair is a strategic platform that helps to facilitate direct engagement among DUT’s industry partners, staff and students.
He took the opportunity to also congratulate all the partners, DUT staff and students for demonstrating that innate human capability to adapt to a fast changing environment.
“Little did we know that our inertia to revolutionise our familiar ways of working and engagement would be disrupted, abruptly so, by the outbreak of COVID-19. Many organisations now embrace digitalisation, which brings with it a range of pros and cons that I am sure will be covered by conversations we will be having throughout the duration of this Careers Fair,” he said.
Prof Mthembu further indicated that as part of DUT’s new strategy, ENVISION 2030, the institution wishes to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with its partners so that DUT students can have opportunities for Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) and employment.
“We also wish to construct a revolving door between our quad-helix partners and our academics so that there could be a cross-pollination of ideas, innovations, strategies and even practices. The only way to ensure we produce graduates who are adaptive to the changing world and have relevant experience to either work or start up their own enterprises, is to establish these strong networks with our partners,” said Prof Mthembu.
Furthermore, he said that greater effort is needed to place the nearly 6000 DUT students that require WIL in some form or another.
Prof Mthembu proudly said: “We remain confident that, given the need to do more to improve our economy, each and every one of our partners represented here wishes to find that creative, innovative, entrepreneurial and adaptive graduate of DUT. Remember, DUT has just recently been ranked by Times Higher Education’s World University Rankings in the top 500 of over 1500 universities in the world and 5th among universities in South Africa. DUT and its graduates mean business!”
Prof Mthembu once again thanked all DUT partners and the COOP section and the Research Innovation Engagement division for all the logistical arrangements of making this eWOW event a reality.
DUT’s Director Cooperative Education, Shakeel Ori said the expo gives a unique opportunity to the university’s talented students and graduates to be exposed and to interact with DUT’s partner employers and important stakeholders.
“The COVID-19 pandemic had necessitated that we wake the World of Work Careers Expo 2020 online for the first time in the history of the university. Access to the DUT WOW Online Expo 2020 was restricted to the invited guests, exhibitors and students of the university only,” said Ori.
DUT created an exciting, easy to use platform that closely mimicked the live World of Work Expo, with employers and visitors engaging and interacting with each other in real time, similar to the face to face expo. Exhibitors were also able to schedule Live Video Presentations to the visitors of their stalls.
The online exhibition hall was equipped with exhibition stall which were arranged in isles and rows similar to an actual expo. Participating employers, SETAs and stakeholders were allocated individual exhibition stalls which were customised to the corporate branding of the organisation.
The eWOW also incorporated a Live TV Studio on the Home Page. The Studio was managed by the DUT Expo Team and it ran during the duration of the expo.
DUT’s eWOW team, especially Vikesh Ravjee, Kris Moodley, Lucille Webster and Keith Kenneth, worked tirelessly to assist all the employers and stakeholders to set up each store, with logos, marketing videos, promotional material, photos and other promotional documents.
Pictured: The first virtual DUT eWOW Expo.