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Study confirms that Work Readiness Programmes add value

Fasset?s Tracer Study confirms that Work Readiness Programmes add value
"As custodians of public funds it is incumbent upon Fasset?s Board to ensure that our
stakeholders are getting good value for money.

Fasset?s funding decisions need to be strategic, rational, and as far as humanly
possible, scientific. Using these imperatives as the yardstick, the Fasset Board
commissioned a Tracer Study to assess the impact that the Fasset-funded
Thusanani and Bonani Work Readiness Programmes have had over the past ten years.

I am delighted to report that the research confirms that these programmes are
playing an important role in creating sustainable employment for unemployed
graduates and diplomates, while at the same time meeting real skills needs within the
sector,' says Fasset CEO, Cheryl James.

The Tracer Study: "The value of Fasset-funded Work Readiness Programmes,'
had four broad objectives: obtain project employers? and project beneficiaries views
regarding the value of these programmes in terms of preparing candidates for work;
gauge the project beneficiaries workplace progress; ascertain whether beneficiaries?
earnings have improved; and ascertain how many project beneficiaries had furthered
their qualifications since completing the programme.

Interviews were conducted with 1 508Thusanani and Bonani Work Readiness
Programme beneficiaries and 148 of their employers. Of the 790 beneficiaries who
work in the sector, 57.5% are employed in the Accounting, Bookkeeping, Auditing
and Tax Services field; 11.4% work for SARS and 10% work in banking.

The lion?s share of employers (74.3%) were based in Gauteng; 11.5% in KwaZulu-
Natal; 5.4% in the Western Cape; 2.7% in North West; 2% in Mpumalanga; 2% in
Free State; 1.4% in Limpopo; and 0.7% in the Eastern Cape. In terms of employer
profile, 73.6% of employers were in the Finance, Real Estate and Business Services
sector; 9.5% were in general government; 5.4% in Personal Services; 4,7% in
manufacturing, 3.4% in transport storage and communication, 2,7% in the wholesale
and retail trade, hotels and restaurants and 0.7% in mining and quarrying.

The research revealed that 89.7% of project beneficiaries (1 353 individuals) are
currently employed. The majority of beneficiaries (88.7%) placed on an internship or
learnership found employment on completion of the internship or learnership either at
the company where they were placed, or elsewhere. Of the 11.3% of project
beneficiaries, who were not placed, 85.4% found employment using the skills gained
from the programme.

Most employers (90.5%) indicated that they prefer employing beneficiaries of
Fasset-funded programmes because candidates are equipped with the soft skills
required for workplace success. Preparing employees for the workplace is a costly
exercise: having access to work-ready unemployed graduates saves employers time
and money. Employers were also swayed by the fact that Fasset has a good track
record in terms of skills development initiatives.

The research revealed that employers are eager to help build capacity in the
sector; hiring unemployed work-ready graduates and diplomats to reduce
unemployment, is regarded as part of their social responsibility. The fact that
candidates have already been screened, serves as an additional incentive.

While 93.2% of employers believe Fasset-funded Work Readiness Programmes
provide beneficiaries with most of the soft and technical skills needed in the
workplace; 89.2% expressed the same view for technical skills. Bonani and Thusanani
learners were perceived to have a very positive attitude to work: this is arguably one
of the programmes most value-adding elements.

While Bonani and Thusanani learners impressed, there were skills gaps,
nevertheless: employers said training provision could be improved in areas such as
English, business and report writing skills; telephone communication skills; decision-
making skills; analytical thinking skills, problem solving skills and creating awareness
that that time is money; Powerpoint skills; and advanced Excel skills.

Project beneficiaries concurred that these Work Readiness Programmes have
made an indelible difference in their lives: 95.6% of candidates would recommend the
programme to family and friends. The Bonani and Thusanani Programmes have
enhanced both their soft skills and their technical skills to a "large extent.?

The most useful soft skills imparted include communication skills (personal and
business); time management; team work; job search strategies; networking; career
development (the management of one?s own career); critical thinking; problem
solving and decision-making. Several beneficiaries mentioned training related to
customer care and dictionary skills as particularly useful.

Valuable technical skills imparted include: numeracy proficiency; use of MS Excel;
basic bookkeeping/accounting skills; use of MS Word; use of Pastel; Internet use in
general; use of MS Powerpoint and email use. Training relating to project
management and in a Virtual Office (simulation) were also cited as very useful.

The Tracer Study confirmed that the Bonani and Thusanani Work Readiness
Programmes have enhanced career prospects by teaching beneficiaries how to take
responsibility for their lifelong learning and work. Programme beneficiaries have been
taught how to plan, how to make informed decisions, how to search for employment
opportunities, how to conduct themselves in interviews and how to conduct
themselves in the workplace. There was evidence that these programmes enabled
candidates to plan and manage their own careers.

Since being placed in employment 48.6% of programme beneficiaries have
progressed to a higher position; 30.5% are still in the same position and 13.4% have
been placed as trainee accountants and are still busy with their training. If all trainee
accountants complete, the progression figure will increase to 62%.

Only 766 of the 1 082 learners placed in employment or an internship or a
learnership divulged salary information. Only 2.1% of candidates earned R10 000 or
more per month when they were placed in employment; 32.0% revealed that they
are earning R10 000 per month or more. This represents a 29.9% increase in
earnings. It is interesting to note that 58.1% of project beneficiaries earned less
than R5 000 per month when they started working; currently only 19.8% learn less
than R5 000 per month.

Particularly gratifying, was the fact that 165 project beneficiaries have since
obtained a further qualification; 155 of these qualifications are at a higher level. Four
beneficiaries held certificates: 3 have since attained diplomas; 1 has attained
another certificate. Of the 840 beneficiaries, who held diplomas, 106 have since
obtained a first degree or higher diploma; 11 have attained an Honours degree; and
one has attained a certificate.

Of the 634 beneficiaries, who held a first degree or higher diploma, 28 have
obtained honours degrees; 5 have attained Master?s degree; 7 have obtained
national diplomas and 1 has attained a certificate. Of the 30 beneficiaries who held
Honours degrees, 2 have since completed a Master?s degree.

"The results of the Fasset Tracer study confirm that Fasset-funded work-
readiness interventions have had a very positive impact on learners? lives. The Bonani
and Thusanani Work Readiness Programmes have enhanced employability, provide
better skilled entrants to the workplace, have facilitated gainful, sustainable
employment, and are welcomed by employers.

It is not surprising therefore, that the researchers have recommended that
Fasset continues to fund Work Readiness Programmes. If rolled out across Setas, and
across the economy as a whole, Work Readiness Programmes could undoubtedly
make a very positive impact on graduate unemployment in South Africa,' James
concludes.

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