She has served in various governance and oversight roles and is currently a member of council at the Central University of Technology in South Africa. She was awarded the Top 35 under 35 Award by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants as its member and is also a member of the Lesotho Institute of Accountants. In this wide-ranging interview, Monyamane talks to Advocate Mothepa Ndumo (MN) on behalf of Metro on skills development and development of different professions in Lesotho.
MN: What would say is the current state of skills development and professional development in Lesotho?
LM: Lesotho is not immune to external factors that are shaping and influencing the labour market. Recently, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our usual way of doing business and has highlighted some deficiencies in our economic system. For example, we now see that there is a need to develop local industries using Basotho talent; there is also a need to embrace digital transformation within business in order to make products and services more accessible to the majority of Basotho.
COVID-19 has also opened our eyes to the reality of remote work and the need for skills to manage remote teams as well as online collaborations. The World Economic Forum has been publishing The Future of Jobs Reports in the past few years and these reports consistently show how the world of work is evolving as a result of emerging technologies.
These emerging technologies include high-speed internet, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics and Cloud Technology. We further need to grapple with socio economic factors such as economic growth, expansion of education and a shift into a greener global economy. These shifts have resulted in what they call “emerging professions” which are reported to be expected to grow by 11% and this will require the re-skilling and up-skilling of employees.
Currently Lesotho has a range of challenges that exist that are closely related to the lack of a skills development policy or strategy at a national level: A mismatch between the skills developed by the education sector and the skills required by the labour market.
An absence of incentives for the public and private sector to invest in skills development. There exists a misconception that, “if I train someone and they leave the organization, then I have lost out and another organization has gained. Therefore, I would much rather not train people because I can’t guarantee that they will stay.”
Our professional bodies in the country also do not have clear skills development strategies, and therefore the quality of professionals is low in the country due to a lack of standardisation of professional competency and capabilities.
This results in a lack of trust in our institutions and organisations, it results in multinational companies and nongovernmental organisations importing skills from outside of the country.
Lack of partnership between the educational institutions (from primary school up to university) and the public and private sectors that can enable sufficient investment in the right type of education and skills and ensure that there is a clear pipeline for students from school into the workplace (as employees, entrepreneurs, artists etc.)
MN: What moves have you made to address some of the deficits?
LM: As someone who has benefited from the South African National Skills Development Strategy through the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ training programme, I know firsthand the benefits of such a structured programme in developing graduates into skilled professionals who possess the technical and professional skills that they need to have a successful career in finance or in business.
Therefore, I tapped into my passion for people’s development to run a number of skills development programmes for entrepreneurs
and for young professionals. It is my belief that in order to build Lesotho, its institutions, industries and to grow its economy, we have to build PEOPLE.
Human development is defined as “empowering people to participate in the improvement of their own well-being” and I can extend this definition to say, “empowered people not only improve their own well-being but can improve the well-being of those around them and of the communities within which they live.”
We currently have two programmes through Inspire Innovation Business Consultants - one is a skills development programme for entrepreneurs in which we support people with entrepreneurial abilities by training them in skills that are relevant to successfully run a business – operations, financial decision-making and digital skills.
The second programme is a skills development and mentorship programme that is designed to provide support to young professionals who have been working for more than three years in the areas of personal development, career development and professional development.
We also provide three skills development courses throughout the programme in data-driven decision making, coding and design thinking in order to ignite in them the curiosity to learn and to introduce them to skills they need to thrive and to be relevant even as the world of work evolves due to globalisation, technological advances and relevant socio-economic factors.
Through this programme we are intentional about bringing more experienced professionals to mentor younger professionals to bridge the generational gap that currently exists in the country that also forms a cultural barrier to skills development. We have recently launched a programme specifically focused on legal professionals that will have a great focus on ethics, digital and financial acumen, as well as leadership development.
Similar initiatives have been mounted for the Lesotho Institute of Accountants that focused on the Future of Accountancy and what skills young accountants have to acquire to ensure that they remain future-ready and relevant.
MN: If you were to stand before a Parliamentary Sub-Committee on Skills and Professional Development or Dr Majoro's cabinet and give them a wish list, practical policy and implementation advice to address the deficits, what would that be?