South Africa's wood processing industry education strategy: North south partnership to develop a globally competitive workforce for the 21st century
The reintegration of South Africa into the global economy and technological change on many fronts has increased the need for investment in human capital to make South Africa's industry globally competitive. This paper describes how a partnership was formed between government, industry and educators in South Africa and Canada to develop university-level wood products education programmes capable of producing the managers needed to make South Africa's wood processing industry globally competitive. We describe the revitalisation of the professoriate at the Stellenbosch University and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the institutions that offer these education programmes, and then describe how these institutions worked with the University of British Columbia in Canada to restructure their programmes. We also describe how the delivery of the restructured programmes is making use of new digital educational technologies to overcome the educational divide between academia and industry. The partnership with industry has been critical to the success of the wood processing industry educational strategy and we describe the strategies that were used to foster this partnership. We conclude by describing the outcomes of the partnership and the challenges that lie ahead for the strategy to realise its aim of helping to develop the human capital that South Africa's wood processing industry needs to be globally competitive in the twenty-first century. © 2010 IWSc, the Wood Technology Society of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.