Dr Carla Enslin and the freedom to learn

“To develop original ideas for very real problems.” - Dr Carla Enslin co-founder of Vega School of Brand Leadership.
Speaking to Dr Enslin is both captivating and worldly. From the west coast of South Africa in Cape Town, she provides the time and patience that perhaps shares an example of a solution needed for young individual’s future decisions. FirstStep.me spoke to her about the ongoing worldwide education and career issues which are challenging students, the market gap which Vega helped bridge, how free education can actually work and the importance of internships along with foundation programs!

It was back in 1999 when Dr Enslin co-sparked the founding of Vega School of Brand Leadership - an educational brand of The Independent Institute of Education. Years later she provides a pulse that fittingly sits with the growth of Vega.
There was a very distinctive education gap (in South Africa) and by working towards addressing this, Vega built an identity for the brand itself - creating a significant education model. “Vega trains for the brand building and design industries with a strong focus on developing and implementing ideas that are original and meaningful. Our strategists are keen design thinkers and our creative students are able to engage with real business problems.”
The brand communication and design industry itself is often represented as a non-traditional and less secure career sector. It was this perception that needed to be changed, urgently. Vega realised this by establishing an educational bridge that links the brand, business and creative industries.
“The market perception of Brand Building and Design is always a challenge and developing an education towards a career path within these industries is very important. We have created meaningful programmes that develop appropriate combination skill-sets in strategic thinking and creative development, for a multiple of exciting and lucrative careers.”
It was this thought process that allowed us to use our discussion time better. Instead of delving into her career path, Dr Enslin targeted issues that needed to be addressed to assist young individual’s education and career paths.
Therefore we asked what can be done to help stem the amount of first year dropouts in colleges and universities worldwide.
“Young individuals, from an early point in their decision making, need guidance and support from all stakeholders in their lives. They need to be encouraged to explore options and areas of interest, to spend time in real world environments. The first critical step is commitment to a field that one is genuinely interested in. The second is to encourage higher education learners to engage with academic support and industry systems from day one – to leverage every available opportunity to receive guidance and support from experienced lecturers, academic staff and industry professionals. Making the right choice must be coupled with on going formal and informal mentoring” – answers Dr Enslin.
Questioned about the purpose, the underrated effectiveness and an obvious stigma attached to foundation or bridging programs, Dr Enslin strongly asserts:
“The classic academic choices can present limited room for broad based yet relevant exploration and growth. A foundation program provides an experimental introduction into an academic program whilst sharpening key foundation skills. Yes there seems to be a stigma attached but that needs to change from a traditional mechanistic approach to an agile approach that investigates and invests in education for the right reasons.”
We finally speak about the unemployment sector that has now become crowded by young qualified graduates and how to address this global issue.
“When a graduate has completed their studies they need to be resourceful enough to engage with the real world. Anything less would be an injustice to themselves and their studies. Resourcefulness is developed through real world projects, collaborations and internships. The ideal is to graduate with a network in place. If you are unable to secure a position immediately you should have the insight and skill to source and initiate collaborative projects. This is why (in all Vega programmes) we embed entrepreneurial thinking and doing. However, employment is a lifelong challenge, hence we invest in lifelong education to continue to build and grow our resourcefulness.”
It is this foresight and solution based views that wraps up our discussion. Creating an understanding that education is not a privilege but a necessity. Going back to the start of the conversation intended to being just about one Dr Carla Enslin, you can’t forget how the shift went from her career to understanding how we can create better career platforms for others. It is her opening statement that summarises this and cements a mission to help others achieve.
“To develop original ideas for very real problems.”
About: Dr Carla Enslin is the co-founder and National Academic Navigator of Vega School of Brand Leadership.