Two entrepreneurs from Johannesburg have created a career research platform to enable learners to find information on what and where to study, and also where to get learnerships or bursaries.
Brand South Africa reporter
Years ago, two young men didn’t know which career to pursue; they also faced several challenges to furthering their education. Now they’ve created an online platform to help learners who find themselves in similar situations.
PS Connect is a website created by business partners Thabiso Ramadiba and Nimrod Dube. “We started PS Connect to ensure that learners have equal access to opportunities that would help them further their education,” explained Ramadiba. “[The platform is created] so that the process of [finding a career path or tertiary institution] will be less traumatic, confusing or complicated.”
Their aims for PS Connect are wide-ranging:
- Help learners identify a career they can pursue;
- Help learners identify which universities and colleges to apply to;
- Assess learners to see what courses they can apply for;
- Help learners with their university applications and online application for college admission;
- If an application is unsuccessful because of space constraints and other reasons at the tertiary institutions, the PS Connect team helps the learner find alternative universities and colleges.
In 2011, the founders of PS Connect officially registered their company, followed by five years of building the platform.
Brand South Africa spoke to Ramadiba and Dube:
Tell us about yourselves.
Thabiso Ramadiba: I hold a BSc (Hons) in business information technology from the University of Greenwich. Born and raised in Seshego in Limpopo, I wasted three years of studying a wrong course due to lack of exposure and career guidance. Between my first and second year of my studies I left my course to pursue a learnership programme that kept me in the wrong career path. Fortunately in the third year I was exposed to IT and the diversity thereof; and that led me to change my career path.
Nathan Dube: I have a BSc in computer science from Heriot Watt University. Born and raised in Johannesburg, I faced a similar challenge; my course was chosen for me by my family and since I had no idea what I wanted to pursue, I just went along with it.
For the longest of times we didn’t know which careers to pursue. We both studied at a private college here in South Africa. I would say we became business partners around 2010, because that’s the time we discussed our common challenges in furthering our studies.
Where the idea for PS Connect start?
Ramadiba: The idea mainly came from the challenges that we personally faced when transitioning from secondary education to post-school education. We were both not exposed and did not have access to the opportunities South Africa offered to young pupils. We were both rejected from university because we did not meet the minimum requirements, which we were also not aware of. We also struggled to fund our studies. We did find an option to attain our qualifications through a college.
Luckily for us things worked in our favour because our challenges imparted a new passion for us, which was to use technology to provide innovative solutions and services that expanded the career transitioning platform, and gave equal access to education for pupils from all socioeconomic backgrounds.
What lessons have you learned as entrepreneurs?
Dube: When you have a vision to change something big in life such as the education system, you will meet hurdles, disappointments and rejection along the way. Every day you will fail in some form but we gained momentum. This is because we are resilient, adaptive and will never give up. We have learnt that failure is a very close friend of success.
Ramadiba: We have learned to deal with resistance to change – convincing educational stakeholders to change their ways around their pattern even a little can be such a task. An adaptive and improvising attitude have let us engage stakeholders in a way that benefits us both.
How does PS Connect work?
Brand South Africa writer Melissa Javan registered on the psconnect.co.za site. Trying to log-in via her Gmail and Facebook accounts, gave an error message. After she spoke to the PS Connect team, they fixed this and Javan then could access the site by logging-in with Facebook or Gmail. She also tried the manual registration, which allowed her to log into the site.
Details needed for the manual registration are your full names, your school’s name, current grade, age, province and cellphone number. An SMS is sent to you after you have registered, with your log-in details as well as the WhatsApp group number where you may pose questions to the site administrator.
Once logged in, you are asked questions such as: “Where would you like to study?” and “What method of studying do you prefer”?
You can “Choose a career”, which gives information on scarce skills. There is also an explanation of the differences between a bursary, student loan, learnership and apprenticeship.
You can view funding options available. The dates of funding applications have expired, however, so you have to do a Google search to find out which company’s funding programme is still available or when you can apply again.
On the funding options and dates, Ramadiba said that the funding options in their system are closed for 2018 intake. “We take it upon ourselves to keep the dates updated and the companies information up to date.” The information is going to be updated after the late application period (January).
The site also gives you a chance to assess yourself to see what career path you can follow – this helps learners who are uncertain about what they should study.
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