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Buhle Farmers “A different breed of Farmers”

Metrosmag,SA

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When we hear the word farmers, what comes to mind immediately is a hoe, cutlass and some soil clothes that shows the effort of tilling the ground and feeding livestock. Now that makes a lot of sense to many of us, but stilettos and feather hats, slim cut suits and beautiful dresses were never one of those classifications of the look of a farmer.

Many of the farmers we met in Mpumalanga at a prestigious graduation ceremony were not dressed in anything soily or dirty, almost all the farmers we saw were somewhat fashion conscious and well dressed.

So we asked, are farming ethics different, or does the outfit in some way connects to the way farming is conducted. These were questions we were asking at a graduation ceremony in Mpumalanga, which proved what we understood about farmers to be stereotypical and wrong. A new generation of farmers are being groomed and developed to compete on an equal level with many already established commercial farmers.

In 2014, The World Health Organization says half of the households in South Africa aren’t getting enough to eat. The problem is not a shortage of food; It’s that people aren’t able to access the food that’s available. Hunger and malnutrition, fueled by poverty, unemployment and the price of food and petrol have left many families battling to meet their basic household needs. The World Health Organization has found that half of the households in South Africa are facing a food crisis.

In response to this crisis, organizations such as Buhle Farmer’s Academy have made it a priority to develop more commercial farmers who are practically able to farm and not only consultants or theorists. This then makes it even a more equitable plan considering the redistribution of land debate, which ensures that many of the new owners of land that would be redistributed or re-allocated, use it in a way that benefits the whole country at large.

Gone are the days, when farming was left to the few boers or old African fathers and mothers, youths are now becoming part of the interested parties who are investing their time in gaining recognizable qualifications in farming and poultry. One of the top faculty members of the project also commended their effort to develop farmers who are no more subsistent but commercially viable.

Absa is a big partner for the project aimed at producing a huge number of commercially sustainable farmers that would in turn contribute to the food supply and general development of the country, another supporter of the project is New Holland Agriculture.

Metrosmag,sa ( inspired by Mzansi Lifestyle ) Mzansi is rich in Lifestyle, a nation diverse in race and culture. Mzansi Magazine explores the rich heritage , versitile culture and the celebrations of Life in Mzansi. Metros Magazine, SA is South Africa's informative Metropolitan lifestlye magazine with all the fresh and important news in Mzansi.

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Education

Private doesn’t always mean perfect: How to choose the right school for your child

Metrosmag,SA

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With registrations for the new school year now open, thousands of parents are considering sending their children to private schools. While many of them would not have considered this option before, the rapid expansion of the private offering is seeing an influx into this sector. However an education expert warns that just as they would do with public schools and higher education, parents must do their homework before simply signing up with any school by virtue of it being a private one.

“Just as with public schools, quality and performance vary from school to school, and it is incorrect to assume that just because a school is private, it is automatically the best choice for your child,” says John Luis, Head of Academics at ADvTECH Schools, home of 91 private schools across South and Southern Africa, including Trinity House and Crawford Schools.

He says the philosophy, approach and capacity of various private schools are vastly different, and that a school should be selected only after consideration of the specific needs of the child to see how they match to potential schools. Additionally, parents should carefully scrutinise promises against track record.

“Parents must firstly make sure that the overall ethos of the school is a good match to the family and the child,” he says.

“When visiting schools – a non-negotiable part of the process of selection – parents should observe the learners and their interactions among each other and with teachers. One should ideally get a good sense that the environment is safe and stimulating, and that the school has all the resources and facilities one expects from an environment in which academic excellence can become possible.”

Luis adds that parents should also look at the long-term performance of schools and their students, to ensure that learners are equipped not just to excel at school, but also to flourish in higher education and beyond.

Very importantly, parents should find out from the school how they are incorporating the very important 21st Century Skills as identified by the World Economic Forum into their teaching methodology and curricula, says Luis.

“Schools should no longer be operating in the way they did ten or even five years ago, with the approach of imparting knowledge top-down, and learners being exam-focused parrots. That does not serve us in the real world out there anymore, and will do so even less in future. Globally schools are moving towards empowering learners with the kinds of skills they need for our new workplaces – skills such as being able to creatively problem-solve, research, communicate and self-manage.”

STEPS FOR CHOOSING A PRE-SCHOOL

Trudie Gilmore, Assistant General Manager at ADvTECH Junior Colleges, says there are few things that instil more anxiety and apprehension in parents than the task of finding the right school for their child’s first foray into education.

“The choices can be overwhelming, the deadlines are impossibly early, and the pressure to get it right is huge,” she says.

She advises parents to structure their search as follows:

  1. Start your search at least one school year prior to attending, and note that many schools take applications as early as just after a child’s birth. Schools should have viewings scheduled throughout the year, and you should attend these at all of the schools you have identified. If you missed the boat on timing, call around and arrange as many visits as you can. Most have waiting lists, and there are often last-minute openings. Be persistent by checking back in and being proactive.
  2. The Viewing. You can attend an Open Day or Expo to hear about the philosophy, admission process and much more, then submit the application and registration fee. You can view the school while classes are in session, and we recommend that you bring your child to spend time in the classroom. Be ready with a notebook on the viewing, and bring a list of all your questions to be answered.
  3. Know how often and how long you’d like your child to attend. Children usually attend preschool anytime from 3 months to 6 years of age.  Most schools should offer half-day and full-day programmes. Check that you are happy with the programmes for both the morning and the afternoon if your child will be there for the full day.

 

Gilmore says parents should check for the following to ensure that a pre-school programme is well-run:

  • Assess the quality of children’s relationships with the staff. Pay close attention to the language used in the classroom and the friendliness of the staff. View a few different classrooms while school is in session to see how the teachers interact with the children.
  • Home-to-school connections are important. Preschools that have high family involvement are often the schools with the strongest programmes. When families are involved, children do better, teachers feel supported and everyone works together for the children’s learning and development.
  • High-quality preschools have structure: They follow a specific philosophy or model and have specific guidelines for addressing challenging behaviour.
  • Discipline policies should emphasise positive approaches to teaching children new skills and proactive strategies for behaviour management such as classroom rules, routines and social-emotional lessons or curriculum.

STEPS FOR CHOOSING PRIMARY AND HIGH SCHOOLS

Morag Rees, Principal of Crawford College Sandton, says that to be academically excellent, a school should not only provide enriching, empowering and meaningful learning opportunities which challenge students’ thinking, assumptions and abilities, but should also ensure that these learning opportunities provide a foundation for further study and successful future lives.

She advises parents to consider the following when looking at schools:

  • The culture of the school, which includes things such as diversity, community awareness, priorities (e.g. academics, leadership development, cultural activities and/or sports), student interaction, and commitment to learning.
  • Travelling distance is also a consideration – especially if the child and parents want to be fully involved.
  • Teaching philosophy and school ethos should align with the learner and parents’ expectations.
  • The school’s track record over the long term, which means not just looking at last year’s matric results.
  • The options available to learners in terms of subject choices, extra murals, and genuine interest in offering every student opportunities.
  • The staff and faculty (qualifications, personalities, passion, genuine commitment to students and education).
  • Awareness of current education trends and research, and using technology in a relevant way.

 

“With the proliferation of private schools catering to a much bigger section of the population than ever before, parents may understandably be excited at the prospect of being able to give their kids ‘the best’, even if it entails some sacrifice,” says Luis.

“But we urge parents to do their homework and to ensure that the sacrifice is not a blind one, because a cookie-cutter education – even if it is at a private school – is not desirable. Parents should ensure that the school they choose is able to tailor their offering to take into account each child’s uniqueness, that it is an enabling environment, that it encourages relationship building, and that it is optimally conducive to learning and development.”

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Education

Gone in 8.8 seconds: How to save your CV from the recycle bin

Metrosmag,SA

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You spent hours crafting your first CV, showcasing your school years, qualifications and experience, but employers don’t even give it 9 seconds of attention before moving on to the next one. Although the job market is tough even for people who have years of experience, it is particularly challenging for young graduates applying for entry-level positions, and first-time CV writers must put in extra effort to develop a stand-out CV, an education expert says.

“Research by the UK’s youth programme, National Citizen Service, found that applications for junior positions have skyrocketed, increasing pressure on employers who have to wade through hundreds of CVs. In South Africa, the competition for entry-level positions is even fiercer, and the need for your CV to facilitate a foot in the door can’t be stressed enough,” says Wonga Ntshinga, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest private higher education provider.

“You are at a tremendous disadvantage if your CV is poorly written and does not sell you effectively, and it is almost certain that you won’t be invited to an interview if that is the case,” says Ntshinga.

He says the best route for graduates is to approach their public university or private higher education institution’s career centre for assistance in writing their first CV, to ensure it ticks all the boxes before being dispatched to the HR manager’s inbox. In addition to ensuring that one’s qualifications and experience match the technical criteria of an advertised position, first-time jobseekers should:

  • CRAFT AN INDUSTRY-SPECIFIC CV

An application for a position in finance will look very different to an application for a position in advertising, Ntshinga says. “As always, Google is your friend. Do an image search for CV examples in your industry, and demonstrate that you are in touch with the culture and approach to business in your chosen sector.”

  • SHOWCASE NOT ONLY COMPETENCE, BUT ALSO CHARACTER

Demonstrate that the employer can trust you and that you are a perfect fit for the position. Show, don’t tell. Raise relevant examples from you student or school career to prove your value in addition to providing qualifications details.

  • KEEP IT SHORT AND TO THE POINT

Less is certainly not more. Give yourself 9 seconds to scan your CV. Do your main selling points jump out at you? Is it clear from a first glance that you are suitably qualified for the position? Gone are the days when CVs stretched over numerous pages with personal details filling the first two. In 2017, the very first page (and there should be no more than two), has to give an employer a solid, positive overview of who you are and what you have achieved.

  • FOCUS ON FACTS AND FIGURES

When demonstrating your experience, don’t just speak in general terms. Use facts and figures to prove what you have done. For instance, if you gained work experience or interned during your student years (which ideally you should have done), don’t just say “Worked for Company Y” or “Was involved in Project X”. Instead, say: “Company Y: Production coordinator on R5 million project with responsibility for a, b and c”.

Ntshinga says all CVs, regardless of whether they are from first-time jobseekers or experienced professionals, should demonstrate that the applicant understands the position and business of the prospective employer, which means generic CVs are out of the question.

“Each CV must be tailored to the position being applied for.  While this does take time and effort, a generic CV will not take you anywhere. Looking for work should be treated as work in itself, so make the investment.”

Ntshinga says that another way to highlight oneself as a candidate, is to demonstrate a commitment to lifelong learning.

“Show that you are proficient in the latest software required in the position you are applying for. Don’t just list your existing qualifications, but also indicate if you are enrolled in any short courses or programmes to expand your skills.”

And finally, a short, well-crafted cover or introductory letter should round off the application.

“This is an opportunity to let the hiring manager get to know you – so make sure the letter is concise but contains personality, and make extra sure that there are no spelling and grammatical errors,” he says.

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Seven unexpected ways people sabotage job interviews

Metrosmag,SA

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Job interviews are tough, in most cases it is hard enough to get one despite sending out countless applications.

So how do you play the interview right to make sure you get the job?

There are the obvious dos and donts – you’ll know to research the company, don’t be late and at least appear enthusiastic. But there a lot of faux pas that employers see time and time again, which candidates do not even realise they are doing.

The Independent spoke to a selection of recruitment and hiring experts about the lesser-known ways to impede your interview.

Misjudging the dress code

Many workplaces and industries have a strict, smart dress code and you’re obviously expected to reflect that in what you wear to the interview. However, there can also be such a thing as being overdressed.

Rob Blythe, co-founder of the intern and graduate recruitment agency Instant Impact told The Independent the way you dress demonstrates your understanding of the culture of the company.

“It is a common mistake for both men and women to be too smart when interviewing with early stage start-up and scale-up companies. Instead of making you look professional, wearing a suit to an interview with an early stage tech start-up can make you stand out like a sore thumb,” he said.

Arriving outside the sweet spot

Arriving late for a job interview is obviously a big no-no. If you can’t turn up on time for the interview, then how will you convince a prospective employer to rely you will turn up to work each day? While turning up bang on time might be chancing it, arriving too early is also an issue.

Lee Biggins, the founder of CV-Library, said: “Employers will likely be balancing their own workload with meeting a range of candidates, so if you’re overly keen they might feel rushed, or not in the zone for the interview. It’s always good to arrive around 10-15 minutes before – this gives you time to settle down, go to the toilet if you need to or even grab a drink. It also shows that you can manage your time effectively, without being too early or late.”

Misjudging body language

It is important to build friendly conversations with an interviewer and show you them you are nice and personable. But being too familiar can be off-putting – do not address the interviewer like they are your friend at the pub. This is an important point to bear in mind during the conversation but also with your body language. For example, if at the end of the interview you are walking through a door with the prospective employer, do not pat their back in a Barack Obama-greeting-another-world-leader style.

Turning up note-less

Even if you have spent days and days preparing for an interview, there is no harm in bringing in something physical to reflect this. One anonymous employer told The Independent they are always impressed when a candidate brings in notes. “It is quite bold for a candidate to walk in and think they have memorised all their points and ideas for the company,” they said, “what happens if I want to drill down into facts and figures that they throw out during the interview?”

However, don’t rely on your notes and keep your eye on them all the time – Mr Blythe warns that relying on them too much will fail to build rapport with the interviewer.

Showing too much interest… in the wrong things

While interviewees are always encouraged to ask questions at the end of an interview, the wrong questions can give the wrong impression. James Reed, the chairman of Reed recruitment company, warns against being too interested in what is in it for you.

“To an employer, a job is a problem to be solved,” he told The Independent. “All other concerns are secondary, including yours. When framing answers to interview questions, this is where a lot of candidates go wrong. Your answers should focus on how your skills and experience will help you to solve the problem, not how great the job would be for you… many candidates see a job as a means of achieving their personal economic or psychological advancement, and forget that a job is primarily about solving problems on behalf of someone else. This personal bias surfaces in their answers.”

Treating an interview as a Q&A

Preparing for an interview is vital but there is danger that too much preparation will mean you lose the conversation – which is equally as important.

Richard Hogg, managing director of Jackson Hogg Recruitment, said: “During an interview, people often focus purely on their suitability for the job, rather than building a rapport with the interviewer. The fact is, they are far more likely to hire someone they get on with, as it’s a strong indicator that they will fit in their organisation’s culture. I wouldn’t encourage anyone to go overboard on the small talk, but bear in mind they aren’t looking for a robot.”

Following up too frequently

When the relief of ending an interview sets in it can be tempting to put everything to the back of your mind and forget about it. However, sending a follow-up email to say thank-you is always a nice touch.

“It is professional to send a note after you’ve met with the interviewer, to thank them for their time and perhaps raise a couple of points to show that you were alert and attentive. For example ‘I really enjoyed hearing about how your company does xyz’,” Mr Biggins says. However, sending too many follow-ups is not a good idea even if you think it will remind them of how keen you are for the role.

“Make sure you ask in the interview about when they expect to get back to you by, and resist the urge to send them any further communication until after that date. If you don’t hear back within this time frame, try and wait a day or two before you email them again and make sure you are polite when you do. Patience is key here – no one wants somebody pestering them for a response, when they clearly aren’t ready to give one.”

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