How to Maximise the Impact of your Skills Development Bursary Programme

Three actions you can take to ensure your B-BBEE bursary spend is really making an impact

It’s been over a year since the B-BBEE Codes were amended to include bursaries. Introduced to address the critical need to provide tertiary education to as many young South African’s as possible, the local training industry has evolved to meet the increased demand. But are many of the newly-introduced bursary courses another money-making mechanism or are training providers delivering the quality of education that is so desperately needed?

This is the question asked by Sean Sharp, Executive Head of Sales for EduPower Skills Academy. Since December 2019, the B-BBEE Codes have required large companies to spend 2,5% of their annual payroll on bursaries for black students at Higher Education Institutions. This has further fuelled South Africa’s multi-billion Rand training industry.

“There’s been a massive increase in the number of training providers that now supply the level of qualification required for bursary programmes,” Sean explains. “A case of supply and demand, the speed at which many of these programmes have been introduced is concerning as it may impact the quality of the education.”

For bursaries to make the impact and transformation that is needed, Sean says the courses offered must deliver the skills that will lead to meaningful employment opportunities. “It’s all about the student and equipping them with the best possible start to their careers,” he explains.

To ensure the quality and impact of corporate bursaries, Sean says that sponsoring companies have to work closely with their students and training providers. This can be achieved by putting three measures in place:

1. Transparency

Companies that want to have successful bursary programmes have to move beyond compliance. If you have a value system and culture that drives the empowerment of your students, it’s much easier to ensure your delivery partners align to this value system too. Measuring this is as simple as talking to your students and getting their feedback. They’ll be able to tell you if the programme that has been promised is what is being delivered. You should also be monitoring your training provider through monthly reporting and site visits. If you arrive unexpectedly at the training site and your students cannot be found, this is a red flag. 

2. Value

Price is all about value. When it comes to your bursaries, true value can be measured as the transformation and economic empowerment of your students beyond the bursary programme. Training partners that impart skills and transform your students’ lives by increasing their potential are truly providing value. You can guarantee that there will be some training providers that offer you bursaries at a lower price, but this means they are cutting corners. Training will be delivered on a shoestring and the student will be the loser as no transformation or empowerment will occur.

3. Impact

You want your investment in bursaries to make the most meaningful impact possible and this starts with the selection process. This will identify the most deserving candidates and those who are most likely to complete the programme. You should therefore interrogate your training partner’s recruitment process, making sure their vetting is thorough and meets all your requirements. At EduPower, we assess the candidate’s CV’s, qualification and conduct assessments and interviews to determine the candidate’s suitability. We take our client’s impact one step further as we specialise in bursary programmes for People with Disabilities (PWDs), facilitating tertiary qualifications that change their lives beyond measure. What we have learnt is that while there is no guarantee that a candidate is perfect from the outset, high retention and completion rates have been a strong indicator that our selection process works.

“For B-BBEE bursaries to make the impact that is needed, the sponsoring company and the training provider have to work together to empower the student to be all they can be. If we can achieve this, we will ensure that each and every bursary is helping to transform the future for our youth and move South Africa forward,” Sean concludes.

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