About Us

The SkillWise training program is based on four decades of research by its founder, Dr Robin Stead. When the first personal computers became available, Rob saw the potential for the PC to take high quality education and training into the underserved areas of South Africa. He set himself the task of studying adult learning methods and how the facilities offered by the computer can be applied to enabling adults to learn quickly and effectively, and most importantly, to develop, not just head knowledge, but real and lasting skills.

 

SkillWise, the company, was founded in 2002 with the goal of harnessing digital technology to provide high quality skills development across South Africa. A powerful platform lies at the heart of the SkillWise training. On the one hand, this platform manages student payments and registrations, training, results and certification. On the other, the platform is designed to give effect to the learning pedagogy that underlies and embodies the SkillWise training philosophy. The essence of this philosophy is that learning motivation must be awakened and maintained from within, rather than imposed from the outside. A second principle is that we learn by doing, not through the accumulation of information.

Most people enjoy sharing the journey of their learning. Although the SkillWise training can be done online and entirely alone, many people find that being in a class and having the encouragement and stimulation of working with others to be helpful. In recognition of this, the SkillWise ‘ecosystem’ was born, where most of its students are connected to a facilitator and to classmates. In turn, the facilitators work closely with Rob and with one another.

Over the past twenty years, training centres have been created and partnerships forged. Currently, roughly 17 such centres are dotted around the country. Some of the centres function as economic enterprises, while others are non-profit in character, but in both situations the aim is for a hybrid economic model. Some students are able to pay the full training fee, while donor funding is used to make up the deficit where resources are limited. All students can be accommodated within this flexible fee structure, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the project. The centre owners/managers function independently, but together they form the backbone of the SkillWise delivery system, reaching deep into hard-to-access regions.

Some of the current team of digital entrepreneurs have been running Skillwise training centres for 10 years now, and they provide the guardrails that guide aspiring new entrepreneurs when launching their own enterprises. Here are some of these stalwarts:

Our Team

Dr Rob Stead

Founder and Managing Director

Gavin Leverton

Enterprise Mentor

Edwin Nel

System Architect

Sharon Lagorie

Admin Officer, Centre Support

And what of the students themselves? To date, over 6000 people have responded to the SkillWise invitation to learn basic computer skills. Most have been in the 20-to-40-year age range, although a few have been over 60!

A recent survey showed that 70% of graduates who complete the SkillWise program move on with their lives. Some have found good jobs on the basis of their new skills, while others have been inspired by their success to go back to complete their matric or to undertake tertiary education.

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