Three ways to make the most of corporate bursaries

Courses offered must deliver the skills that will lead to meaningful employment opportunities.

Since December 2019, the B-BBEE codes have required large companies to spend 2.5 percent 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 Sharp, executive head of sales for EduPower Skills Academy, explains. “A case of supply and demand, and 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.

He adds that ensuring the quality and impact of corporate bursaries can be achieved by making sure three key measures are in place:

1. Transparency: 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 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 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 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: Investment in bursaries should 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. Interrogate your training partner’s recruitment process, making sure their vetting is thorough and meets all your requirements.

Sean says, “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.”