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Prof Theuns Pelser – Wheels in motion to upskill leadership


Prof Theuns Pelser
Wheels in motion to upskill leadership

The Toyota Wessels Institute for Manufacturing Studies (TWIMS) has set the wheels in motion for a leadership programme that is geared towards upskilling a diverse group of decision-makers in the Eastern Cape (EC) to positively impact the province’s manufacturing and broader industrial sectors.


The purpose of the course is to provide applied economics to senior political leaders, public servants and community leaders in the province, with a key focus on the major opportunities and challenges facing the broader provincial economy, with a particular focus on the province’s manufacturing and broader industrial sectors. In 2022, a similar course, Revitalising KwaZulu-Natal’s productive economy: An executive short course for senior political leaders and public servants in KwaZulu-Natal, was held successfully.


The programme, which will be rolled out towards the end of the year, was born out of the need to develop a dynamic and robust manufacturing sector in South Africa in contrast with its decline over the past two decades. The opening of the local economy to global trade has placed substantial pressure on domestic manufacturers who have struggled to adapt to a more competitive operating environment.


TWIMS’ Executive Director, Professor Theuns Pelser says the course explores the central role of the local and provincial government in enabling firm level and sectoral competitive advantage within the provincial economy for the benefit of sustainable community development.


The South African manufacturers who have attempted to advance their operating capabilities in the face of heightened competition have expressed concern over the lack of, and associated high cost, of management skills to drive productivity and innovation in the sector.


“Critically, the course, which is structured to run for six weeks, considers the key challenges facing manufacturing in the context of emerging digital technologies and environmental pressures, and the continued central role of manufacturing to successful economic transformation,” says Prof Pelser.


“It [course] then shifts to a consideration of how manufacturing is organised at both a global and regional level, and then applying this frame, explores the development trajectory of four important manufacturing sectors such as agriculture processing, automotive assembly and component manufacturing, clothing and pharmaceuticals.”


Structure of training course

The course is structured to run over six one-week training blocks, with each training block running to a set pattern of three days of intensive training (involving lectures, seminars, brainstorming sessions, factory visits, and the exploration of case studies), followed by the setting of a team-based learning task that needs to be completed before the start of the next training block.


Course participants will be encouraged to bring their perspectives into the training sessions and to analytically explore their views (and alternative perspectives).


Block 1: Locating South Africa within the global economy

  • SA’s position within the global economy

  • Imports and exports

  • Investment linkages

  • Major economic activity and recent performance

Block 2: Locating the Eastern Cape within the South African and global economy

  • Eastern Cape’s position within SA economy

  • Eastern Cape’s position within the regional and global economy

  • Trade dynamics (domestic and foreign)

  • Major economic activity and recent performance

Block 3: The key role of manufacturing in driving economic development

  • The middle-income economy trap

  • The role of manufacturing in creating value adding employment and raising productivity

  • Unpacking technology and environmental developments

Block 4: The global organisation of production within Global and Regional Value Chains

  • The global (and regional) organisation of agriculture processing, automotive assembly and component manufacturing, clothing and pharmaceuticals sectors.

  • Key macro, meso and micro factors driving successful manufacturing development

Block 5: Unpacking the development trajectory of the Eastern Cape’s key manufacturing sectors

  • The recent performance of the Eastern Cape’s agriculture processing, automotive assembly and component manufacturing, clothing and pharmaceuticals sectors

  • Identifying Eastern Cape’s lead firms

  • Key meso and micro factors impacting Eastern Cape’s successful manufacturing development

Block 6: The role of the public sector in developing manufacturing capabilities

  • Local, provincial and national government best practice in supporting industrial development

  • Public-private partnership model to secure manufacturing development, social capital and prosperous communities

Pelser adds that the training further explores the role of policymaking in shaping manufacturing development and the parallel processes providing significant social capital to communities. It also lays the basis for those who wish to continue to further postgraduate professional qualifications, in so far as it is taught at a postgraduate level by senior academic staff and industry practitioners with advanced academic qualifications.


Upon completion, the participants will receive a course completion certificate that is accredited by TWIMS, reflecting that the course focused on the economic development of the Eastern Cape.


Any questions or queries relating to this training course can be directed to Prof. Pelser at theuns.pelser@twimsafrica.com

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