Alison Johnston, Managing Director of Tactile Technologies, is the winner of Triple E Training’s prestigious Passionate About People Award.
Johnston is one of many “Captains of Industry” and human resource practitioners and other professionals involved in training and skills development who have received this award from the leading adult literacy and numeracy training provider over the years.
The award acknowledges visionary approaches and outlooks to skills development and training that are making a meaningful impact on high illiteracy in the country. The efforts of these professionals continue to improve the lives of many South Africans, while also widening the reach of quality adult education and training (AET), a basic human right that is enshrined in the country’s constitution.
Marco Maree, Triple E Training’s Expert Training & Development Advisor, presented the award to Johnston at Tactile Technologies’ premises on 26 October 2023.
“This award demonstrates our appreciation for your unwavering and selfless dedication to enhancing skills development with a particular focus on our youth. Your contributions have been instrumental in educating, elevating and empowering more than 180 young compatriots in as little as four years. Tactile Technologies’ focus on skills development and training transcends merely ‘ticking boxes’ to comply with broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) legislation. In this way, you and your team are setting the benchmark in AET, leading the way for other companies to follow suit so that we can make a real impact on high youth unemployment,” Maree said.
Tactile Technologies’ focus on empowering youth entails equipping them with workplace literacy skills, including English literacy and numeracy, as well as basic computer proficiencies to better prepare them for a career in the information communications technology (ICT) sector.
This is a revolutionary departure from the traditional approach of ICT companies of providing training in Common Business Orientated Language to comply with the B-BBEE codes. This is despite there being so many young adults who do not even have a basic education because of the dismal state of the country’s school system. In May 2021, the school dropout rate tripled from 230 000 to 750 000. The performance of learners is especially poor in previously disadvantaged and rural areas where schools are under-resourced and under-developed.
Individuals need communication and basic numeracy skills to excel in a modern society. These are also the foundations upon which they can learn more about ICT and other technologies. AET also prepares them for bridging courses that will enhance their numeracy skills so that they are able to perform at their best in modern workplaces. This is considering the significant divide that exists between the maths skills that are taught at our schools and those that are actually required by most industries, which rely on critical and logical thinking, as well as problem-solving capabilities.
Tactile Technologies is now also employing and training young adults who have completed all four levels of AET to work in its repair centre. This is opposed to recruiting skilled and experienced technicians who stand a greater chance of securing employment.
These individuals undertake quality control and assessment on behalf of Tactile Technologies. Using their new-found numeracy skills, they are able to ensure that every imported microchip and processing board are of the correct specification. In doing so, they also start learning more about the company’s technology. This practical training is complemented by theoretical instruction. Upon completion of the bridging course, these individuals receive a certificate of competency in quality control and assessment. They are then ready to undergo training in the actual repair of the company’s products as the next stepping-stone in their career in the ICT sector. Tactile Technologies also sends the most industrious learners to Technikons to further hone their ICT skills and communication abilities so that they are also able to engage meaningfully with the company’s customers.
Accepting her award, Johnston lauded Triple E Training for the high quality of the company’s AET and a willingness to work with its clients to find innovative solutions to address high illiteracy, poverty and inequality.
“It is already difficult enough for young adults with degrees to secure employment. How then can we expect those with no or the absolute bare minimum in terms of skills to have the confidence to even hold their own in a job interview? These are the people who should be given a chance to access a decent education and then groomed and coached further by companies so that they can also grow and develop as individuals. Perhaps, it is time to revisit the ultimate objective of B-BBEE as this has been lost along the way. Businesses of all sizes have an obligation to take young unemployed adults on board and start developing their skills. It costs next to nothing to train them and, in doing so, we are giving them so much more than just a means of earning a livelihood. Importantly, they are receiving a quality education and, therefore, the chance of a better future. South Africa is a nation of diverse and talented people and we have so much to learn from one another. We would be able to build a much better country for all of its citizens, if we were all just willing to share our knowledge,” Johnston said.