31 October 2023

Recently, Ms Bhekiwe Nontokozo Simelane, a Lecturer in the Marketing & Sport Management Department at the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) scooped the first Prize at the Retail Sector Education and Training Authority (W&RSETA) Good Practise Awards (GPA) that were held at Raddison Hotel in Johannesburg on 26October 2023.

Introduced in 2014, the GPA recognises stakeholders (wholesale and retail companies, training providers, institutions of learning and beneficiaries of the SETA’s programmes) for outstanding contribution to skills development in the Wholesale and Retail Sector.

Ms Simelane is no stranger to the wholesale and retailing sector – prior to joining VUT on 11April 2023, she enjoyed an extended tenure as a Store Manager at Woolworths Pty Ltd, in KwaZulu Natal Province.

For Ms Simelane, winning the first prize demonstrates that there has been recognition of her contribution in the Wholesale and Retailing domain, over the years. In Ms Simelane’s words, “I am honoured by the nomination and ultimate first-prize award and remain deeply grateful to the W&RSETA for this recognition. Through the funding they have supported me and others alike, from undergraduate study, I am glad to have the opportunity to give back to the retail space as an employee and continue to do so to date.”

According to Ms Simelane, the transition from corporate to academia remains a rewarding, yet challenging experience. While the ethos between academia and the corporate retail sector may seem different, upon closer examination, they share several intriguing similarities such as the increasing quest for performance and impact delivery. “I am thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Marketing, Retail Business, and Sport Management team. I draw inspiration from our Head of Department, Professor Nobukhosi Dlodlo who inspired me in July 2023, to participate in the W&RSETA awards for 2023. Owing to the sterling dedication, goal-driven approach and unwavering commitment to successful partnerships demonstrated by Prof Dlodlo, she further catapulted me to sit in the W&RSETA Higher Education and Training Working Group, where I am drawing a lot of experience in the role and contributions of academics to the Retailing sphere. I am enduringly inspired to strive for more as I work towards my doctoral studies. I appreciate the opportunity to work under her guidance and within the institution.”

Prof Dlodlo, who participated as both a Guest Speaker as well as a Panel Facilitator at the 2023 W&RSETA National Skills Development summit, expressed delight that the VUT name is being mentioned at such high-profile events. She intimated that there are more solid skills development projects to be navigated between the VUT and the W&RSETA through continued collaborations. “Godspeed, it is my wish to see the Retail Business Management programme grow in leaps and bounds as a sought-after career at the VUT, considering that the sector is the highest contributor to the national GDP,.” She said. She indicated that her department is working towards infusing simulation software and other disruptive and emerging technologies into the curriculum to ensure that it remains dynamic and adaptable to the environment. “There are also plans to develop a designation profile for employees and academics in the Retail space and more is yet to come in this arena.”