Saturday 02 September 2017

Heavy storms hit Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the afternoon of 31 August 2017. The only problem it caused, at least as far as the staff of the British Council Ethiopia were concerned, was the fact that not a single invitee managed to arrive for the launch of the Skills up Event that was scheduled to kick off in the organisation’s premises at the exact time the skies burst open (i.e. 5:30 pm). In fact, the storm played on the staff’s imagination and it seemed that no one may come at all. 

But the fear was short lived as, despite the heavy rain, guests started to trickle in. Then the trickle turned into a torrent which allowed a sigh of relief for all who worked hard to make the event a reality. 

It is worth mentioning that the idea of organising this Skills Up Launch took shape during Sub-Saharan Africa Teaching & Exams Marketing meeting that took place in Johannesburg in late May 2017. 

The main reason for organising this event was for brand building and raising the awareness about a particular Teaching Centre product offer; the Skill Up programme. Moreover the purpose was to develop new business opportunities and also contribute to the conversation about ‘skills’ in the workplace. 

The invitees were an interesting mix. Most were Human Resource professionals from the private, UN, NGO and public sectors. But there were academicians from Universities, former staff members, and even a Director of the Centre for African Entrepreneurship and Leadership (CAEL) from the University of Wolverhampton. 

After welcoming drinks and a moment of respite to shake the rainy feeling, the launch started with a brief introduction by Helen Gambold, Head of English and Exams, followed by a panel discussion comprising three presenters.

Here the presenters touched upon issues such as what skills are needed for productive workplaces? What gaps have been noticed in respective workplaces? Which core skills do employees need to have in order to be successful at work? and etc. These presentations were followed by lively comments and discussions. 

The focus of the Panel Discussion was on the theme of skills for the workplace and the aim of the discussions was to provide a space for experience sharing and the swapping of perspectives with a view to reaching a greater understanding of business needs across sectors and generating potential solutions. 

Then followed the Skills Up taster, which was an actual LIVE demonstration to illustrate parts of the Skills Up training. Here it was lively to see the contestants mingle and converse about selected issues during this exercise. 

After that a short presentation to elaborate about the Skills Up training was provided by Helen Gambold and the reception followed which allowed lots of networking to take place in a relaxed environment. 

All in all, the entire event was a big hit. The presenters were marvelous. The discussion was lively. The Skill Up taster was even livelier. The networking was fun. Participants started registering for the training sessions immediately. Even the downside or the heavy rain (which actually prevented a significant number of the invitees from attending) didn’t stop the core invitees, or the around 50 professionals, from coming and attending this milestone event and making it a success.