Is the BA degree stereotyped by the labour market?
Presenter Eusebius McKaiser facilitated a debate with Business Leadership SA's Busi Mavuso and Wits University lecturer Dr. Danai Mupotsa.
Two excellent guests in @ragingpoet & @BusiMavuso2 join us now as we debate the usefulness of BA degrees; especially relevant as many first years are about to embark on their tertiary education journeys. @Radio702 @CapeTalk pic.twitter.com/5MLrVKlRqB— Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) January 9, 2019
Mavuso says BA graduates alone cannot propel South Africa's economic growth to compete in the global market.
She argues that Humanities qualifications do not prepare graduates with skills currently needed by corporate SA.
IT-related skills, management skills, sales and engineering are the most-sought-after skills across local industries, Mavuso says.
While humanities degrees foster critical-thinking and abstract-thinking skills, she claims graduates are not employable without technical aptitudes.
What is going to position us as South Africa to be globally competitive? Is it a humanities degree? I don't think so.— Busi Mavuso, COO of Business Leadership SA
We need to design interventions and solutions for the country that we have versus the country that we wish for.— Busi Mavuso, COO of Business Leadership SA
Meanwhile, Dr Mupotsa says corporate SA makes many false assumptions about the skills transferred through BA degrees.
She says South Africans need to rethink the value and purpose of university education and knowledge in order to be more imaginative.
Dr Mupotsa argues that the benefits of the BA degree are needed across all academic disciplines in order to create more intersectional workplaces.
Universities need to [produce graduates] across all degree programmes that are equipped with a radical imagination.— Dr. Danai Mupotsa, Head of Department for African Literature at Wits University
If we are going to cut off BA degrees and produce IT graduates who are not taught to think for themselves, that's terrifying for me.— Dr. Danai Mupotsa, Head of Department for African Literature at Wits University
Listen to the engaging debate on The Eusebius McKaiser Show:
Below are some of the responses to the discussion on Twitter:
I regret my BA every day @Eusebius.— African Queen (@FeistyPixxi) January 9, 2019
@Eusebius - Something so liberating about the humanities in shaping critical thinking - best thing that ever happened to me during my educational training. Forget the aliens, the social scientists are here.— Willie Chinyamurindi (@chinyaz) January 9, 2019
@Eusebius I did MBChB, BSc, then I decided to do BA (PPE) Majors Philosophy and Politics, I loved it. I will be doing History thus year.— thandojk (@ThandoJabu) January 9, 2019
My BA certainly didnt put me at the top of any employers list, and job searching after graduating was crushing. But when i did find a job, i found myself better prepared, and with a more practical skills set, than the other business and economics graduates i started with.— Irish Bebop (@Byron_McFadden) January 9, 2019
@Eusebius @Radio702 Hayi Mama Busi Mavuso no way! So we must pursue degrees based on employability? What happens to students like myself who aren't numerically strong? Must we suffer in programmes like CA knowing that is not my strength! #BAPostgraduate 💣💣💣— VSS book Club Foundation (@Phiwe_Mncwabe_) January 9, 2019
Fascinating & very important convo @Eusebius I did BA in my undergrad & commerce post-grad. My q is, why can’t our unis offer interdisciplinary programs? Why can’t I do Classics & Pure Maths for eg? That will produce more rounded & better graduates for SA!— Mangi Mbileni (@Shmangz) January 9, 2019
V glad I did a BA - learnt so much espec. in History major. But would swap my Pol&Phil electives to do more maths. Imo it’s good to think about tools you’ll get, & don’t know what I got from Pol&Phil. Maybe because didn’t major in them (& my prefs related to my being in Econ now)— Josh Budlender (@joshbudlender) January 9, 2019
@Eusebius brilliant discussion on humanities degrees. BIG realization of the importance of humanities studies (for me) came in my MBA degree.— M’BAku 🎓 (@Olebs87) January 9, 2019
Definitely agree that ALL SA students need a foundational year at Uni. Even the “mathematical” thinking patterns were challenged!
Ironically, globally some large companies hire people who have done BAs in their undergrad because they understand these graduates aren't system/process orientated and are able to ideate— Nduduzo Nyanda (@Nduduzo86) January 9, 2019
This article first appeared on CapeTalk : BA degrees won't propel SA to competitive global economy, argues BLSA COO