Coachlab@Vaal – fast-tracking ITC postgraduate students to future success

Annette Willemse -- Mon, 08/03/2015 - 12:53

Coachlab @ Vaal – fast-tracking ITC postgraduate students to future success

“The CoachLab @ Vaal represents a unique experience, where entrepreneurship and innovation are instilled in tomorrow’s business leaders.”

This is according to Mr Johann Landsberg – manager of the bhive Enterprise Development Centre (bhive EDC), on the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University. The bhive EDC is home to one of only three CoachLab centres in the country. “Entrepreneurship is vitally important to the economic and social development of our country and the continent. Through innovation, entrepreneurs create new, competitive markets and businesses which lead to job creation and henceforth have a multiplying effect on the economy. Add to this the fact that entrepreneurship empowers citizens and, it becomes clear why entrepreneurship represents much more than a mere buzzword in today’s society.” says Landsberg.

The CoachLab programme recognises the need to convert academic students to implementers and thereby providing a platform from where quality university students can be exposed to innovation and innovative business practices. Through this initiative valuable skills are acquired to fast-track participants as future business leaders.

Elliot Mogosi (CoachLab @ Vaal coordinator) and Johann Landsberg (manager: bhive EDC)

The CoachLab progamme

CoachLab is a postgraduate leadership programme for ICT and engineering students run from The Innovation Hub (Africa’s first accredited science and technology park and a subsidiary of the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency) in Tshwane. It is supported by prominent industry partners, government, academia and educational institutions that are all committed to establishing of a diverse skills base in the ICT sector. The programme is fully sponsored by the MICT (Media Information and Communications Technologies Sector) Seta and industry partners who support skills development as a means to alleviating poverty through employment. The programme runs annually from March to November in which the graduates are required to work on projects with assistance from industry experts, personal coaches and mentors.

The three CoachLab programmes are: CoachLab @ TIH, CoachLab @ JCSE and CoachLab @ Vaal, serving higher education institutions in Tshwane, Johannesburg and Vanderbijlpark.

CoachLab @ Vaal

The Innovation Hub, in collaboration with the South African Graduates and Development Association (SAGDA) and the Vaal Triangle Campus, launched the CoachLab @ Vaal on 26 February 2014.

According to the CoachLab @ Vaal coordinator, Elliot Mogosi, the programme represents a nine month skills and leadership development programme which prepares promising postgraduate students within the ITC field for industry.  “Participants take part in action-learning projects that stimulate innovative thinking and develop leadership potential which in turn help students to bridge the gap between the academic and business world,” explains Mogosi.

The programme – which is open for selected Honours and Master’s students, sees the students working on several real-time projects during their nine month participation. This year the group will work on two in-house projects for the Vaal Triangle Campus while negotiations are underway for a third national project pertaining to the vehicle manufacturing industry. Apart from industry experience, Mogosi explains that the students are also empowered with soft skills such as communication skills, personal and professional budgeting skills, conflict resolution, and business writing and presentation skills.

Past participants of the CoachLab @ Vaal programme have gone on to pursue careers abroad and are currently positioned in Vietnam and India. Previous projects of the CoachLab @ Vaal includes: an internet portal for SAGDA (South African Graduates Development Association), database development and management for the Centurion Arts Festival and desktop applications for units such as the bhive EDC and the Serious Games Institute: South Africa.

“The CoachLab initiative represents a win-win scenario for all involved,” explains Landsberg. The sponsors and partners invest their skills, time and knowledge to create the optimum learning experience for the programme participants. The industry partners provide the project work, mentorship and supervision and gain access to highly skilled post-graduates to execute specific tasks. The university provide academic oversight and form links with industry and obtain feedback for curriculum development.

In conclusion, Landsberg summarises the value of the CoachLab initiative for participants as follows:

  • Opportunity to work on projects with industry leaders;
  • Experience within a vibrant business environment;
  • Networking with entrepreneurs and business leaders;
  • Action learning that integrates core competencies and leadership development;
  • Mentorship to develop technical and business skills;
  • Increased marketability by becoming an industry-ready knowledge worker.


If you would like to get involved in the CoachLab @ Vaal initiative – be it as a sponsor, a partner or a client, please contact Elliot or Johann on 016 910 3393/3280.