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Exccel@uni recently attended the E Squared Portfolio Summit.
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We were recently featured on VentureBurn.
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Career development is essential, especially within the context of South Africa’s high rate of youth unemployment. According to Stats SA, the youth unemployment rate, measuring jobseekers between 15 and 24 years old, hit a new record high of 64.4% in the second quarter of 2021. This skyrocketing unemployment rate intertwines with many other social issues in our communities, such as poverty and crime.
Invariably, there are several deep-rooted and systemic causes of the high youth unemployment rate. However, according to PISA, the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment, one of the hindrances is that schools in most countries are not doing enough to help youth navigate their school-to-work transitions. This undermines the ability for youth to better compete for available employment, implying that even youth who are fortunate enough to achieve post-secondary qualifications, are simply not “ready for work”, or poorly prepared for operating in the workplace. Hence, almost every medium to large enterprise has implemented some internal graduate/internship/onboarding programme or skills development programme. In some cases, companies have more than one of the previously mentioned skills programmes.
Regardless of the qualification requirements, employers/companies generally seek a common set of qualitative skills from job candidates. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), an international professional association that is a leading source of information on the employment of the college educated, the most important skills are as follows:
- Critical Thinking/Problem Solving,
- Oral/Written Communications,
- Digital Technology,
- Professionalism/Work Ethic,
- Career Management, and
- Global/Intercultural Fluency
To cater the NACE framework to our student’s unique context, we’ve added 2 additional competencies that sponsors also felt was needed:
- Financial Literacy
- Health & Mental Resilience Training
Excel@Uni’s Lungela Career Readiness programme aims to bridge the work-readiness gap with a systematic approach aligned with the NACE framework. The programme is facilitated through a combination of online webinars, video resources and assessments to be viewed at the students’ convenience. The idea is to prepare students for the work environment so that they are equipped before they apply for employment positions. This gives students a head start in their careers and a better chance of employability, within all sectors of employment.
If you are a bursary manager and would like to learn more about how our Lungela Career Readiness offering can add value to your bursary students, feel free to contact us here https://excelatuni.com/contact-us/. Also feel free to review a sample of our training content on YouTube (https://youtu.be/FCy1Kxzc07Q )
We look forward to partnering with you in our joint mission to solve South Africa’s endemic skills development and unemployment problem.
The December 2019 amendments to the BBBEE-Code 300 require large entities to spend 2,5% of their annual payroll on bursaries. The amendments are a direct result of the Fees Must Fall campaign and have removed the rule that limited recognizable expenditure to tuition-related costs only. With NSFAS sponsoring students from households with less than R350K a year, most corporates are using this new “all traceable bursary spend is recognized” dispensation in a variety of innovative ways, like:
- Providing “top-up” funding and wrap-around support to students funded (often under-funded) by NSFAS
- Providing robust wrap-around support for their current portfolio of student beneficiaries.
- Some companies, typically with smaller headcounts, are sponsoring other company/sector bursaries with access to wrap-around support for their students.
- Providing full-funding to the “missing middle” students, from households with R350K-600K per annum.
- Sponsoring faculties or other bursaries with access to an ad hoc private tutoring budget
- Providing sponsorship to students that are in private colleges, in addition to the national universities.
At Excel@Uni; We build solutions to help the tertiary sector avoid losing R15 Billion annually to the 50% student dropout rate. Over the last 8 years of our operations, we have been testing some insightful hypotheses around effective student-support and the economics of scaling the solutions, to affordably halve the 50% dropout rate in the 2-3 million student tertiary education sector. The hypotheses we’ve tested with our 500 bursary students are;
- Minimum full-time bursary fund budget needs to be R175K per student annually.
- Dynamic (ie, weekly) student academic tracking and access to private tutoring, are the 2 most effective academic support interventions for students.
- Mentorship (as a performance requirement for earning stipends) plays a critical role in advising key student decision-making and professionalising their conduct.
- General work-readiness skills can be taught effectively and with the same prioritisation as academic teaching. Student buy-in can be secured with a Skills Transcript that maps out experiential learning.
- Bursary spend doesn’t need to be limited to student support in the form of tuition-based funding models.
We believe that the new BBBEE skills development spending rules provide a fertile ground for companies to experiment impactfully with their skills spend. The experiments can be optimized and scaled for national impact through government/NSFAS adoption, once proven effective. We are tackling some key challenges faced in the different practice-areas of student support, and we would be very excited to partner with your company, so that our solutions can be made relevant to your industry and community of operation.
Our Bursary Admin Fee includes a free subscription to our Mila student information system. We implement all-round promotion activities for the bursary, working closely with the career centers, bursary notice boards, university handbook editors, online bursary databases and partner organizations to ensure that the bursary receives the necessary exposure to attract the best possible students.
The biggest risk factor facing students is insufficient funding, which requires them to split their focus between schooling and earning sustenance income. With the majority of low-income university entrants being the first in their family to do so, there is a need for significant financial investment in order for the student to overcome the deficit of their socio-economic background. With the new BBBEE codes allowing for full expenditure recognition, there is no need for bursaries to pursue high-student volumes on their bursaries, while under-providing on books, equipment and travel stipends. All spending that can be traced to the student will be recognized. Larger volumes also lead to a situation where students need to double-dip in order to sufficiently cover their schooling and living costs.
Contact us here if you would like to hear more about our bursary admin offering.