Experience: Myth or an excuse?

If you are a keen follower of the State Of the Nation Address or SONA in short, then you are probably aware of the recycled ‘there is a lack of engineering and science graduates in this country’ talk that features every year in the President’s uninspiring, soporific speech . I do not want to call the president a liar but I wish to free South Africans from misinformation. My people, there is no such a thing. I doubt that President Jacob Zuma has any clue of what he means by that statement or has noticed that he repeats the same thing every year. But then again that is what happens when you do not participate in the speech that is to be delivered by you or you do not deliver on promises that you make. Anyways…


Now let me explain what ‘there is a lack of engineering and science graduates in this country’ statement means in the corporate world, particularly to the private sector, the originators of this ‘gospel truth’. The lack of graduates in the disciplines mentioned above simply means that graduates lack the necessary skills to compete in this dog eat dog world. ‘Experience’ has become the go-to word that best describes the exiguity of skills they talk about; a term that drives me to the bottle whenever it is mentioned. Even as I write I am constantly reaching for something holy, trying hard to locate sanity.


If you are smart as I thought you are, you are probably scratching your head trying to understand why yours truly seems hostile to the term ‘experience’; well don’t scratch head just continue to read. And if you are concerned for my health with regards to the bottle, well don’t be; Jesus Christ prescribed this medicine to me before he miraculously ascended to the heavens. Now who are you to question the instructions of the Son of Man? Anyways…


Each and every year literally thousands of graduates in South Africa leave higher learning institutes with a hope of finding a good paying job, applying and sharing the wealth of academic education they have accumulated during their period of studying; unfortunately for them the doors of companies are shut in their faces, dashing and crashing their dreams of being part of the corporate world. What is the reason, you may ask? Answer is their lack of experience. I agree. For one to excel they need to be armed with the necessary skills. But as to where should they gain this ‘experience’? No one seems to know. Now this is where cracks in the relationship of yours truly and ‘experience’ began to show, deteriorating to a level beyond repairs; and embracing the bottle more closely every time the word is mentioned. It is common sense, actually it should become a common courtesy that if one is uneducated they should be afforded an opportunity to learn. Surely Mr CEO and his executives did not crawl onto this planet armed with the ‘E’ word. Someone gave you a chance; grant these inexperienced graduates a chance.


Dear reader, I have faith in your memory. Please do not disappoint me. You would remember in the beginning I said that there is no such thing as ‘there is a lack of engineering and science graduates in this country’; now I wish to drop more knowledge. Actually this is to disprove a theory that develops holes every day in the Digital Era or the Age of Information: Experience is nothing but a myth, particularly in the world we live in today. It is either you know or you don’t. In the last two years I have come to learn that experience is an excuse to protect the stale, uneducated minds that refuse to accept change. I have in the past few months seen these nonentities in positions they are unqualified for, sauntering around with their ugly, dirty feet like peacocks and as if to compensate for their shortcomings, you would hear them barking experience at every corner; trying hard to mask their fear from being replaced by the highly educated, competent and qualified graduates. Just like in the public sector the private sector is fraught with these big title toting charlatans. In an ideal world mainstream media in South Africa would focus equal attention to the corruption in privately owned companies as well as they do in government. But that is the ideal world.


Honourable compatriots, if experience is translated into time, you would get words like ‘old’, ‘pensioners’ and ‘seasoned’ and so on and so forth, and stuff like that in your results. The nation’s father, I am of course referring to the Captain of the South African ship and Commander-In-Chief of the African National Congress, the pride of Nkandla himself President Jacob Zuma was handed a second term on a green, black and gold platter as the leader of the once illustrious movement of Plaatjie and Tambo in Mangaung at the end of last year; and he recently turned 71. On second thoughts I think the president knows exactly what he is talking about when he says ‘there is a lack of engineering and science graduates in this country’; but time can never be cheated. Kgotsong!




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