The Durban University of Technology (DUT’s) Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu hosted the official launch of the DUT Retail Leadership Chair on Monday, 04 November 2019, at the Coastlands Umhlanga Hotel, Durban.
Attending this prestigious launch were DUT Management, Vice-Chancellors from various universities, Chief Executive Officers from different companies in retail, W&RSeta board members and the DUT community at large.
Welcoming the guests was DUT’s Co-Operative Education Director, Mr Shakeel Ori who has worked tirelessly in the establishment of the DUT Retail Leadership Chair. In his welcome address he said: “What is being launched was not an overnight thing, the implementation of this Chair started in the year 2013 and the work had already started.”
Giving an overview of the Retail Leadership Chair was W&RSETA CEO, Tom Mkhwanazi, who said that the first ever Retail Leadership Chair to be launched was in the year 2016, at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), and the first launch itself, was a collaboration of universities and W&RSETA.
He further spoke on the developments in the Wholesale and Retail industry where he highlighted that only 42% of retailers are prepared for the fourth industrial revolution. “We are not only faced with technological forces but the retail sector is fast changing and the future is now,” said Mkhwanazi.
He further shared plans of the Retail Leadership Chair, stating that the Chair serves as a mechanism that fosters industry engagement between universities, TVET Collages and the industry and these plans also include growing the South African economy through paying close attention to skills.
“As W&RSETA we believe the battle is half won and there is still so much to do. The Chair has also met with TVET Colleges in an attempt to manoeuvre the curriculum so it benefits the industry and I encourage participation of all leaders to ensure success,” said Mkhwanazi.
DUT’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Thandwa Mthembu said, “As DUT we can learn that it is only in excellence in what we do that makes us shine, following the success of the South African rugby team.” He also added that the official launch of the DUT Retail Leadership Chair teaches us that building collaborations within ourselves as a country builds a better South Africa.
“What is happening is a clear demonstration of that approach, where through building excellence amongst ourselves as W&RSETA, DUT and Cape the Peninsula University of Technology and the TVET Colleges, goes to show that we can work together against the doldrums of this country, just like our rugby team had been written off from winning the World Cup, but through excellence they proved otherwise,” he said.
The newly appointed DUT Retail Leadership Chair, Mr Yunus Doba spoke in lengths of the gaps that the Chair seeks to fill. He said there is a need to fill the gaps between industry and institutions, starting by looking closely at the curriculum, adding that designers of the curriculum should design it in a form that allows students to excel in both the industry and academia.
“The Chair stands to invest in research for the revolving industry in an attempt to allow students to excel in the academic side of retail while also seeking to find relevant work integrated learning for our students to allow them to also excel in the industry,” said Doba.
He added that it is also part of the Retail Leadership Chair’s plans to make it a hub that consolidates relevant pipelines and contribute immensely in the economy.
Industry representative, Bruce Ferguson spoke on the engagement between the industry and institutions. He said it is interesting how the industry wants to engage with institutions and have input in the curriculum, adding that the commitment from all parties has been remarkable and as the industry, they are looking forward to the future.
Pictured: DUT Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Thandwa Mthembu.