With Transport Month almost at an end, the North-West University’s Karen Visser, a lecturer in transport economics, explains why this is such an important field and how the university is building the workforce of South Africa.
How it all started
The NWU’s subject group Transport Economics and Logistics Management was established in 2003 as a direct result of active interventions by the Department of Transport (DOT).
These interventions manifested in the active investment in building capacity for skills that were deemed to be scarce at the time.
The DOT did extensive research and found a lack of capacity in transport economics and risk management in historically disadvantaged communities. In response to this, the department then launched a project focusing on building capacity in this field by involving historically disadvantaged universities.
The NWU’s campus in Mahikeng, at the time known as the University of the North West, immediately saw the future potential of offering programmes in transport economics and logistics management and has not looked back since.
Still going strong
The DOT and NWU have maintained and nurtured this mutually beneficial relationship since 2003 and the initiative has gone from strength to strength. More than 800 students have graduated from this programme and the vast majority of them are currently gainfully employed in the industry.
The subject group Transport Economics and Logistics Management at the NWU is a unit of note, and have gained respect and authority in the industry and among their peers. The subject group’s success and throughput rates are consistently high and the graduate employment rate is far above average.
“There is a constant drive to nurture and maintain our high standards and mutually beneficial relationships, as well as the vigorous pursuit of new and exciting opportunities,” explains Karen.
The Transport Education and Training Authority (TETA) is a more recent partner of the subject group, and in line with their strategic mandate, they provide funding for bursaries and internships.
The TETA also exposes graduates to their vast stakeholder contingent and actively facilitates networking with the ultimate goal of sustainably employing graduates.
This is done by entering into agreements with stakeholders to absorb interns for a period of a year after graduation, funding this endeavour, and ultimately encouraging the actual full-time employment of those interns.
This project has proven to be very successful and placements for 2020 are currently being finalised. It is expected that at least 50 graduates will be placed at various companies, paid for and facilitated by the TETA.
“In a challenging South African and world economy, qualifications in transport economics and logistics management remain in demand. Our high employment rate after a first degree is absolute testimony to that,” says Karen.
“Transport economics and logistics management qualifications are sought after, dynamic and here to stay. We are proud to walk this road and invite anyone who wishes to become part of this success story, to enrol for studies in one of our programmes. You will ultimately enter an industry that will provide you with countless opportunities and a very bright future.”