Building soft skills, professional links and networking opportunities

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The University of Queensland facilitated Stay Connected Workshops for Australia Awards-Africa scholars in July. The workshops strengthened scholars’ soft skills and networking opportunities through online discussions. An emphasis was also placed on creating opportunities to build professional links with Australian organisations, Australians and scholars.

The workshops included scholars from Botswana, Cote D’Ivoire, eSwatini, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Overall, 87 scholars attended four workshops, comprising of 43 female scholars, including two with disabilities and 44 male scholars, including five with disabilities – a resounding reflection of the scholarship program’s diversity.

There was a concerted effort by Australia Awards and the facilitators to include a strong emphasis on Gender, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) throughout the entire program. GEDSI principles were successfully implemented as evident in feedback from scholars, including:

‘Very informative workshop about how to build networks, and how I can use those networks to impact on my Reintegration Action Plan. What stood out was understanding social inclusivity from the different perspectives of my colleagues.’ Lebogang Ohimile, South Africa, Male, Master of Good Manufacturing Practices, University of Technology Sydney

‘The workshop was very helpful because it highlighted a number of critical issues that are important in the journey of this award, such as Gender, Disability and Social Inclusion (GEDSI) and making connections.’ Elina Hall, Zambia, Female, Master of Animal Science, James Cook University

The online Stay Connected workshops worked well given the ongoing travel restrictions in place due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Scholars showed flexibility and adaptability, and as Nilton Mugabe (Mozambique, Master of Environmental Engineering, University of Melbourne) stated concerning Covid-19 challenges, ‘There is no progress without challenge!’

Listen to highlights from the workshops, here…

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