Thought Leadership

Future Fit Academy steps up as sponsor of DHL GradStar Awards 2021

Focus shifts to holistic view of technical and pragmatic behavioural skills need to be relevant in the future world of work

The FutureFit Academy has stepped up as a sponsor of the judging process of the DHL GradStar Awards, a programme which recognises the Top 100 university students across South Africa based on their leadership qualities and readiness for the workplace, and then connects them with potential employers as well as business mentors.

The DHL Gradstar Awards, now in its 6th year, is a talent recognition programme inviting full-time tertiary students to enter and potentially be recognised by the leading employers in South Africa.

“The awards provide the opportunity for students to prove they have qualities beyond book knowledge and academic achievement. Personal characteristics, more important than ever to employers include behavioural skills such as self-awareness, curiosity, resilience, problem solving, decision-making and teamwork, and developing these attributes is part of the multi-stage assessments that students complete with the programme,” explains Laura Barker, MD and founder of the GradStar Awards.

Dr Eric Albertini of the Future Fit Academy adds that the sponsorship of the GradStar Awards judging process provides a crucial link for graduates to embrace a holistic approach to both their academic and future fit skills – all essential to being successful and relevant in the future world of work. 

“The Future Fit Academy has defined 15 ‘behavioural’ future fit skills as critical to being relevant and competent, if not advanced, in the future of work and an increasingly competitive job market. These skills are equally as important to employers and businesses as they are to individuals.  To meet the skills challenge and ensure that businesses are sustainable and competitive demands that organisations develop their human capital ‘muscle’ to strengthen companies for future disruptions. Companies need a talent strategy that develops employees’ critical, future fit skills. For individuals, the need to upskill has never been more pressing. In harnessing and developing these 15 skills, the Future Fit Index provides GradStar participants with a comprehensive self-assessment tool that assesses their level of readiness in these 15 critical skills, and a learning path of how to further develop them,” explains Dr Albertini.

For purposes of the GradStar awards, the top 500 entrants will have access to the Future Fit Index tool and will receive an in-depth report on their level of competence in these 15 future fit skills. Based on this report, they will be required to create a personal self-development plan of how they can develop their future fit skills further.  The process is embedded into the GradStar entry process and forms part of the judging to get to the top 100 graduates.     

“Being ‘Future Fit’ is not simply about technical or academic skills or competencies, but rather a holistic set of skills, behaviours, traits and mindsets that are inherent to being ‘human’. It takes into account all aspects of good leadership and management and how it works in practice and recognises the need for rounded development across technical knowledge, capability and personal awareness. One of the things we hope to address with the exposure of graduates to the index, and in the context of SA’s youth unemployment crisis, is the divide between work and education which are often poles apart. Students are taught to operate in an academic environment, but the pragmatic, behavioural skills training often remains unaddressed, yet is in high demand from prospective employers. By exposing the top 500 entrants to the Future Fit Index, we aim to expand their thinking processes and self-awareness beyond technical competencies, into the realm of behaviours and personal traits that they can and should learn and develop as much as any ‘academic’ qualification,” explains Dr Albertini. Thousands of students enter the DHL Gradstar Awards each year, and entries are then judged through two rounds to the Top500 stage and then the Top100 Finalists. The Top 100 are all gathered in a paid for experience over three days where they get to engage with recruiters, are celebrated at a gala dinner and get to discuss leadership at a one-day summit.

Download the GradStar app from the app store to enter. Entries are free and are open to all full time tertiary students in South Africa. Entries close on 31 May 2021.