Bringing the Students On BoardSubmitted by Robyn D'Alessandro
The Student Development project launched by SACIA in 2019 is already bearing fruit. Mpho Buntse was contracted in early 2019 to manage youth engagement within SACIA, in line with the Association’s vision of addressing the succession and skills shortage issues we experience in the Technical Communications industries. As the Project Manager for Youth Development; Mpho is the liaison point between higher learning institution stakeholders (students, academics and support units like student affairs), and the Association, to launch active chapters within all institutions relevant to the broadcast, film, media, sound, AV and live events sectors.
His role includes all youth engagement aspects of the association, including setting up a Young Professional’s Forum, driving and facilitating networks, community engagement, raising awareness amongst students about the professional designation opportunities available to members and instilling ethical as well as professional conduct amongst youth members.
The initiative is forging ahead with the establishment of on-campus Student Chapters. There are already Chapters on-site at six major Training Institutions around the country, namely: The North West University (Mafikeng Campus), the North West University (Vaal Campus), The Academy of Sound Engineering, AFDA, The University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Johannesburg; with more planned as the platform expands.
The aim is to gain input from these academic institutions and integrate with their offerings to provide the practical components (today commonly known as service learning programme) that make for well-rounded, employable industry-entrants. “Although we only started the process of engaging institutions about 3 months into the 2019 academic year, we have received overwhelming interest from both institutions and students," says Mpho.
“Students within the scope of SACIA’s mandate have demonstrated an eagerness to facilitate a single, non-partisan voice that will see them flourish as ethical professionals, post-graduation. There is a sense of relief that, finally, their sector has a professional body represented by a force of intergenerational, experienced role players, highlighting ethical standards.”
A Youth Development Day at Blandford Manor in April, which hosted champions of the initiative and students from partner institutions, uncovered a healthy appetite for technical development and set the stage for further engagement. As well as being the official launch of the Student Council, the day created opportunities for young people driving transformation in the industry to interact, share challenges faced by the youth and make recommendations on how to advance youth engagement.
It also gave chapter leaders the chance to meet, greet and network with some of the members and board of SACIA. SACIA’s student development plan operates in two ways. The Association, through the Student Chapters, facilitates the placement of Broadcast, Live Event, AV, Media, Film and TV student members with relevant industry players for their Work-Integrated Learning/Service Learning Component while they are still studying, so that the theoretical elements come to fruition on site. It also provides for engagement with industry, opportunities for mentorship arrangements, internship potential and future preferred employment opportunities.
The outcome will be an industry-backed student population, receiving practical support from industry leaders and graduates that are work-ready with access to industry networks. These students can interact with major players and form networks necessary for future partnerships. It gives them access to Mentorship, Work-Integrated Learning, Service Learning and Internship opportunities as well as the chance to hone their leadership skills to contribute towards the vision of the industry.
To make this benefit accessible to this section of the market, SACIA has discounted the Student Council membership fee to R100.00 (ex vat) per annum for Student Members. Already the Academy of Sound Engineering has registered their entire complement of Final Year students as SACIA Student Members, at no cost to the students. Mr. George Hattingh Junior, Director of Marketing and Communications for Academy of Sound Engineering (ASE) provides SACIA with the resources they need to make an impact within the student body.
“ASE is the largest training institution for Audio Technicians and Sound Engineers in South Africa and produces technicians in the Television and Screen Arts field. Our impact on the industry is significant and must form part of the professionalisation of the industry, so we welcome the opportunity to engage with SACIA at this level.” “Although it is still early days, our students have begun talking about the programme and are excited at their prospects.
The realisation that they are part of something bigger than just an institution and that the industry’s professional body recognises them and offers the space for growth and support, is invaluable,” he says.“We are also excited about the possibility of our professional staff to be involved and to gain their professional designations. As SACIA grows and its relevance and impact in our industry becomes more important, we hope to be a part of that successful growth.”
The Student Council anticipates tremendous growth in youth-oriented membership and the development of a SACIA membership that reflects the demographics of the country as well as the changing face of the sector. “We aim to have launched 50% of our national chapters within the first 5 years and to have obtained a clear mandate from the student and youth population about the future of the industry” says Mpho.
“By the end of 2019, we anticipate a fully-fledged Student Council and Young Professional’s Forum as strong components of SACIA. We are at the centre of the fourth industrial revolution, and we need to demonstrate our commitment to addressing the changing face of our future workforce by investing in the youth.”