EduPower is changing the lives of young South African’s through B-BBEE sponsored bursaries
More than half of South Africa’s 18 to 34-year old’s cannot find jobs and we have one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world, and yet for years, companies across many sectors have been challenged by a skills shortage.
According to Sean Sharp, Executive Head of Sales at EduPower Skills Academy, South Africa’s continued skills deficit is being compounded by a lack of practical and technical skills.
“The root of unemployment is not only a lack of jobs; a key underlying issue is an inadequately educated workforce as well as a mismatch of skills amongst graduates. The relationship between diploma or degree choice and unemployment length shows that higher education career selections are not aligned with labour market requirements,” says Sean.
But many cannot study further. Around 51% of South African youths don’t possess the financial means for higher learning courses, leaving millions unable to pursue secondary and tertiary education or training, presenting a daunting challenge for their employment prospects.
“It is critical that South Africa turns its fast-growing young population into a economically active dividend. Training for skills is a critical part of realising this potential,” Sean adds.
Skills development is a key component for South Africa’s transformation and economic growth and companies have contributed to the upliftment of our youth through learnership programmes. With the amendments to the B-BBEE Codes in December 2019, corporates are now also incentivised to contribute to bursaries.
Sean believes this is a game changing mechanism that can pivot South Africa’s youth from merely surviving to becoming employable graduates with industry-relevant skill sets.
“As a result of the significant B-BBEE benefits for bursaries, many bright young South Africans are now being equipped with the skills they need to actively pursue their dreams,” Sean explains. “But to achieve the scale and sustainability required to address the national skills shortage, a more collaborative and concerted effort is needed.”
Aiming to be part of the solution, EduPower has partnered with a Higher Education Institution to deliver a Bursary Programme that offers accredited NQF Level 5 and above qualifications for its learnership graduates.
“By placing and managing learners on a Higher Education Bursary Programmes, our sponsor companies have the opportunity to earn the four points available for bursaries on the B-BBEE scorecard, “Sean explains. “But what really sets our programme apart is that we allocate bursaries to absorbed learners who are in full-time employment.”
For the learner, this ensures a higher qualification and at least two years of training. For the sponsor, it provides the skills needed in their business plus a candidate who has practical work experience managing people.
“EduPower has a disciplined approach to workplace experience. Our learners are expected to “work” a five-day week from 8am to 4pm and follow Labour Law practices so that when they graduate, they already have 12 months of work readiness,” Sean explains.
This focus on work experience has resulted in EduPower absorbing its promising learners. These candidates become full-time employees and help with administrative functions and managing new learners. In this way, the Academy has already created jobs for 20 of its graduates and it’s these promising candidates who are now being provided further study opportunities through bursaries.
“As the students work for EduPower, we administer the bursaries and provide mentoring and support to help them thrive academically and personally. The environment also affords them the opportunity to complete the qualification as part of their workplace life. This provides an added benefit for sponsors as they don’t have to pay stipends as the students are already in full time employment,” Sean explains.
Once the bursary qualification has been completed, Sean accepts it is likely their graduates will move on to pursue careers in their field of study.
Sean concludes: “Ultimately, we understand that we are stewards and this is what we want for our students. Through our Bursary Programme, corporates can increase employment opportunities by equipping bright young South Africans with the necessary skills to become the leaders of tomorrow.”