Author Archives: demi

Life Changing Work Experience

EduPower’s work experience model is truly unique. Our learners don’t work on simulations – we source live campaigns ensuring the practical experience our learners acquire is marketable and relevant. 

Learnerships provide structured experiential on-the-job learning opportunities through which South Africa’s youth can develop the career skills most in demand by today’s employers. This work experience teaches them softer skills such as communication adaptability, problem-solving and teamwork. 

While this helps our learner’s market themselves in the job market, quality work experience is also a critical part of any skills development NQF aligned qualification. A learnership requires 10 hours of evidence-based work experience for every credit of the qualification – with the majority of the NQF qualifications being between 120 and 150 credits. Our learnerships deliver this and more. In fact, EduPower provides more than 1 800 hours of tracked real life work experience over the 12-months of the skills development programme.

EduPower has chosen to focus its work experience on Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) or contact centre industry for a number of reasons:

  • BPO is a high growth sector in a shrinking economy
  • There is a high demand for contact centre agents with more than 500 companies nationwide and in excess of 225 000 jobs
  • The sector is labour-intensive and the majority of jobs are entry level
  • Due to the diverse nature of contact centres, the sector provides excellent career development opportunities

To help prepare our learners for these opportunities, EduPower’s work experience exposes them to a wide variety of roles including quality assurance, surveys, lead generation and sales – not to mention administration.

It’s all about ensuring our learners have the necessary skills to find sustainable employment when they finish their skills development programmes, creating employable people and South Africa’s future workforce. It’s about being part of the solution to unemployment. 

For more information on our learnerships and how you can play your part in transforming unemployment in South Africa, email EduPower today at info@edupowersa.co.za

EduPower Opens in Gauteng

In November, EduPower’s new Gauteng campus opened its doors and welcomed its first group of learners. The opening of the Gauteng campus is a milestone for the business and one welcomed by our Gauteng clients.

Based in Edendale, the campus has a fully fitted, custom built contact centre as well as classroom facilities. Similar to the Durban campus and the key criteria in selecting this venue, it is fully accessible for people with disabilities and our training and work experience sits under one roof. 

Under the leadership of Anton Esterhuizen and Indira Govender, the learners at the Gauteng campus are already engaged with their learnerships and working on live campaigns. 

Both Anton and Indira enjoy the opportunity to showcase the new facility so if you would like to arrange a visit, please give them a call or send them an email:

Anton: 073 800 9004 or email: anton@edupowersa.co.za

Indira: 076 834 5187 or email: indira@edupowersa.co.za

EduPower’s work experience delivers bonus points for absorption PLUS full-time employment opportunities.

At Edupower, we are providing quality work experience that delivers employment for our learners and bonus points for absorption for our B-BBEE sponsors. Our goal is to change the lives of our learners through sustainable employment. So when our learner, Ashleigh Phillips, was offered a full-time employment with our IT partner Safricloud, it was an opportunity of a lifetime. It’s these win-win solutions that make the difference and add up to 47 points to your B-BBEE scorecard.

Unpacking the Amendments to the B-BBEE Scorecard

The Department of Trade and Industry’s amendments to the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice on Friday, 31 May, were published in the Government Gazette with very little fanfare considering the significant impact they may have on generic entities in the country. Rajan Naidoo, director of Edupower Skills Academy, takes a closer look at the changes to the codes and how they will affect businesses in terms of procurement, enterprise and supplier development as well as skills development.

According to Naidoo, the DTI and the government are sending a strong message regarding the empowerment of black-owned businesses with the new procurement guidelines. “Procurement remains one of the most commanding mediums for transformation and maintains the most powerful weighting on the overall B-BBEE scorecard. The two-points increase definitely emphasises the need to bring more Exempt Micro Enterprises (EME) and Qualifying Small Enterprises (QSE) into the supply chain. The points increase is undoubtedly aimed at incentivising generic entities (businesses with an annual turn-over exceeding R50-million) to empower and grow majority black-owned businesses,” explains Naidoo.

In terms of skills development the scorecard remains relatively unchanged, but with a change in focus on how skills development is approached. Previously the expenditure element, which was valued at eight points, required 6% of a company’s annual payroll to be used on skills development initiatives. Following the amendments, this skills development element has been reduced to six points on the scorecard with a 3.5% expenditure requirement, but with the addition of new elements, including the funding of higher education.

Naidoo believes this adjustment was necessitated by former president Jacob Zuma’s announcement regarding free higher education in 2017 after the nationwide #FeesMustFall campaign. “Zuma’s announcement was made without any budgetary provisions but the changes to the scorecard provide the means to potentially access the funds from the private sector and to creating new funding mechanisms,” clarifies Naidoo. The amendments introduced by the DTI require that 2.5% of a generic entity’s annual payroll is spent on funding higher education by means of bursaries for black students at higher education institutions, which will earn companies up to four points on the scorecard. Allowance is also made to include adult basic education training and funding programmes at schools. By adapting the weighting, Naidoo believes that the decision making in terms of allocation of funding is placed back in the hands of companies. “Generics can now potentially fund the children of their employees through bursaries or even school fees, as it allows for both basic and higher education.”

In terms of skills development, the new scorecard also combines the categories for training through learnerships, apprenticeships and internships of unemployed persons relating to the size of the workforce. Previously the scorecard rating was based on a headcount, requiring 2.5% of the workforce to be unemployed people undergoing training. The specific mention of unemployed has been removed and only mentions that six points are available according to the number of black people being employed.

“The skills development expenditure should be for the unemployed, but is not an absolute requirement according to the new stipulation. Of the mandated training budget of 3.5%, companies can now spend 25% on non-accredited in-house programmes such as adult literacy and soft skills, that are not necessarily NQF certified. This should be a positive for businesses as they will have the choice of spending their budgets on upskilling their own staff. The implications of training versus productivity will also come into play as training unemployed people does not have the same impact on productivity as staff training,” mentions Naidoo.

People with disabilities (the second sub-element under skills development) remain an important focus for government with the need to bring them into the mainstream workforce through training. Skills development expenditure for black people with disabilities remains unchanged and will secure companies four points if 0.3% of annual payroll is utilised.

Naidoo does however question the five bonus points allocated to absorption and questions what the legislators had in mind with this change. “Previously, providing unemployed people with an additional training intervention and a short-term job opportunity qualified as absorption, but it had to be on par with 2,5% of the company’s total work force. Obviously, this had financial implications on their labour bills if there were no vacancies and companies were forced to create positions to accommodate new trainees. Now companies only have to provide one learner with permanent employment in order to qualify for the five bonus points for absorption, which is significant as it’s equivalent to a one level increase on their scorecards,” comments Naidoo.

Overall Naidoo believes that the government’s motivation with the amendments is to create employment – not professional learners or students but active participants in the economy. He urges companies to take note of these changes as required implementation will be valid within six months from the announcement date of 31 May which may have further financial implications for those companies that have already put a plan in place for the 2019/20 financial year.

Revised Code 300: General Principles for Measuring Skills Development
The Skills Development Generic Scorecard is amended as follows:

– The points available under skills development and bursary expenditure are now 10 vs 8 before although the
combined target remains at 6%
– The cap on informal and workplace skills development expenditure under Cat F&G Learning programmes is increased from 15% to 25%
Source: Mantis Networks

For more information on the Amended Codes of Good Practice, please click here.

BEE and the moral dilemma

Implementing learnerships should never be an exercise in box-ticking.

The whole thing about learnerships, according to Sivarajan Naidoo, director at EduPower, is that nobody is really accountable for ensuring that they’re implemented to provide maximum value for the learner.

He goes on to clarify what he means by this: “The whole concept of learnerships was created by the Skills Development Levies Act of 1999. The Act regulates a compulsory levy scheme to fund education and training in businesses within various sectors. While the Act and the SETAs (Sector Education and Training Authorities) lay out various guidelines and policies around the governance of learnerships, the ultimate aim of any learnership is to prepare unemployed people for the world of work or to upskill people who are already employed. And this is where they frequently come unstuck.”

Learnerships are designed to provide the learner with both a theoretical and practical component, with 30% of the 12-month learnership spent in an academic environment, with the remaining 70% of the year used to implement those learnings in a workplace environment.

“In order to meet the requirements for the learnership and achieve a qualification, the learner needs to complete a set number of notional hours at the rate of 10 hours per credit. Notional hours are the estimated learning time taken by the average student to achieve the specified learning outcomes of the learnership programme.”

Employed vs unemployed
While the exact same requirements are applied to learnerships for the employed and unemployed, the intent differs slightly. “Learnerships for the unemployed are aimed at introducing people to the workplace and how things operate there. For instance, much of the South Africa’s labour legislation also applies to learnership candidates, and as of January this year, the national minimum wage also applies for these learners. For the unemployed, the workplace experience component is crucial to prepare the learner for the world of work. The hope is that at the end of the 12 month period, the employer will be able to offer the person a permanent job. If not, the learner now has a good track record of employability and will hopefully find work elsewhere.”

B-BBEE has added a whole new dimension to learnerships for unemployed learners as it introduces an absorption component, encouraging companies to absorb the learners at end of the 12 months, thereby increasing their chances of employment. However, cautions Naidoo, there is also a negative aspect in that some employers choose to outsource the training of people with disabilities or the unemployed, and they don’t always properly manage the quality roll-out of the learnership.

“It is so important that companies sponsoring learnerships manage the quality of that learnership’s delivery. We’ve seen instances where host employees don’t give the learners the right kind of work experience, for example. In some cases they are simply ticking a box on paperwork that reflects the deliverables in terms of the B-BBEE scorecard.”

Learners that are hosted on third party sites must get proper workplace experience; they must be treated properly in terms of the country’s labour regulations and the learner must be employable at the end of the period.

It’s perfectly acceptable for a manufacturing plant, for example, to host learners with disabilities at a third-party site, but the onus is on the sponsoring company to ensure that the individual is receiving the quality of learning and training that prepares them for the workplace. Deploying learnerships for the unemployed and people with disabilities can be used as a money-making opportunity (for the training provider) or to improve a company’s B-BBEE ranking, with the learners not receiving the full skills development benefit, although the paper trail appears to meet all of the learnership criteria.

It’s difficult for the SETAs to police the above-mentioned fraudulent activities as thousands of learnerships are being run countrywide and they simply don’t have the capacity. “What would work,” says Naidoo, “Is some sort of partnership with the hosting businesses to ensure that quality learning is taking place. If the SETAs, the Department of Higher Education and the Department of Labour collaborated, either formally or informally, they could ensure that the unemployed and people with disabilities are getting the right level of workplace experience.”

Learnership deliverables are very clearly defined. They all specify notional hours, assessments and moderation, all of which is recorded in a portfolio of evidence logbook. It is largely dependent on the assessor and moderator to check on the quality of workplace experience. They also need to establish if the portfolio of evidence is simply completed for convenience or if it’s a true reflection of the learner’s workplace experience. “There’s an ethical code of conduct that goes beyond simply checking a paper trail, to ensure that the workplace is providing what it claims to,” says Naidoo.

With employed learners, the situation is somewhat different. These learnerships are either hosted by company that’s sponsoring the learner or by the SETA, but there are other challenges. Legislation makes it clear that learnerships require a 70-30 split in terms of workplace experience and classroom learning. However, employers can find it challenging to release workers to go into the classroom because that impacts on their production capacity. “Unfortunately, we find that some companies rely on training providers who are able to significantly reduce the classroom component of the learnership in the interests of productivity. This is not to the learner’s advantage.

“The company’s capacity planning needs to allow for the classroom component instead of trying to fast-track learners through the academic component.”

Creating business owners
Another interesting fact highlighted by Naidoo is that B-BBEE is not prescriptive in terms of which sector the learnership must fall under. Companies are free to sponsor learnerships outside of their sector. This opens the door for companies in one sector to sponsor learnerships in others that may ultimately be more useful to the individual. “The main thing is to provide the person with the greatest possible likelihood of finding employment,” says Naidoo.

This includes learnerships that prepare people to run their own businesses. There are simply not enough employment opportunities to accommodate South Africa’s unemployed. Part of the B-BBEE scorecard allows for enterprise development and supplier development, both of which encourage entrepreneurship. “When companies embark on this type of sponsored learnership, they need to adopt a strong mentorship role to help the individual to build a credible and sustainable business.   A learnership can only get the person so far, entrepreneurs also require support, seed capital and mentorship. One of the biggest causes of SMMEs failing is poor cashflow management and the only way to get around that is mentorship.”

While learnerships provide an academic route towards understanding how a business is meant to be run, small companies and start-ups also require a practical component in the form of mentorship. Large corporates can also use these people as suppliers and help to make them more sustainable; they’re basically training their own suppliers. Bonus points can be achieved on the B-BBEE scorecard when a large corporate takes on an SME that was unrelated to its business and converts them into a supplier.

“The B-BBEE legislation aims to produce sustainable small business by establishing partnerships between large corporates and small businesses. The development of small business underpins the recovery of our economy. It’s unrealistic to expect current businesses to be able to employ the country’s unemployed; this growth has to come from small businesses.”

Naidoo concludes, “While the SETAs are very clear about what learnerships are intended to achieve, the responsibility falls on business, training providers and learners to apply the spirit of the legislation instead of looking for ways and means to get around the legal requirements and simply tick boxes. The intention is to upskill an unemployed nation. While there are legal loopholes that need to be closed, this also requires ethical behavior from all parties. Businesses need to invest in genuine transformation, even if it’s outside of their business. And you can’t legislate for that, it requires a corporate culture change. We need to do away with professional learners, with box-ticking training providers and disengaged sponsor companies.”

Article written by Alison Job for ITWeb

Meet our learner, Carvin Davids

Carvin David’s life story is nothing short of remarkable. A learner at EduPower, Carvin is one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet. He truly embraces his life motto to make the most of every opportunity and he has dreams so big that he is an inspiration to us all!

Do you need a skills development partner that can provide quality training and work experience for people with disabilities? Send our team a message at and we’ll give you a call today.

thepowerofpositive inspiration opportunity

The disability equity minefield

Businesses can increase their Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard rating by investing in disability initiatives, but they need to do so for the right reasons.

“BEE has brought to the fore the employment of people with disabilities as well as identifying skills development opportunities for them,” says Sivarajan Naidoo, Director of EduPower. While this is a good thing, Naidoo says there’s a distinct difference between businesses that are simply ticking boxes in terms of meeting their BEE target and those companies that implement genuine transformation of their workforce to accommodate disabled people in the organisation.

He says, “One of most obvious signs that a business is sincere about transformation is if the company has developed a policy within its HR department to accommodate people with disabilities. If it hasn’t, then it’s probably a box-ticking BEE exercise.”

South Africa is a ratifying party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities.html], which places an obligation on South Africa and society in general to follow the UN convention and the way in which it’s applied, especially in business, says Naidoo. “While the convention is much broader in terms of the general rights of people with disabilities, they still require employment in the workplace, and this is where South African businesses can come to the fore.”

Naidoo says key to implementing genuine transformation in the workplace is a sound understanding of the various definitions around disabilities. “Most people – and businesses – don’t know the difference between people who are disabled or those who are impaired, and also don’t understand what reasonable accommodation of these implies in the workplace.”

A disabled person is someone who has a long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairment that puts them at a disadvantage when compared to people without impairments. “A key criteria is that no assisted device is able to create a sense of equality,” he adds.

While the term ‘impairment’ also applies to physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments, an employer could take steps that include assisted devices or reasonable accommodation to render this category of person more equal and thus, level the playing field. “It depends on the specific disability or impairment,” says Naidoo. And while the types of disabilities and impairments are extremely broad, so too are the types of workplaces, ranging from the factory floor to an office space. “Not all workplaces are accessible to certain types of disability or impairment,” says Naidoo, “and this has to be considered by businesses looking to provide opportunities for the disabled and/or impaired.”

For example, mobility impaired people require ramps, lifts and ablution facilities, which may be less practical on a factory floor compared to an office environment or a call centre. The point that Naidoo makes, is that beyond requiring the use of ramps etc, mobility impaired people are considered to have no other impairment, which means they can function as well as anyone else in a call centre environment, for instance. “However there are subtler issues, such as how they get to and from work, for example. People relying on wheelchairs can’t use public transport, they require specialised transport with a ramp lift, which is a lot more expensive because of the required adaptation as well as the fact that it can transport fewer people per trip.

“People with disabilities also tend to come to work a little later if they’re relying on help from an outside party, which the company needs to accommodate. Such persons may also have other health issues resulting from their disability, and might need more time off work to go to healthcare providers, and if they’re reliant on public healthcare, this can mean an entire day out of the office. Employers need to ensure that their policy accommodates all of this without disadvantaging able bodied people. If this isn’t handled sensitively, a whole lot of issues can arise in the workplace as a result.”

Reasonable accommodation comes in both tangible and intangible forms for a wide range of disabilities or impairments. It could be as simple as a keyboard or software, but it could also be making allowance for late comers or people who require more sick leave. When it comes to impairments that aren’t immediately apparent, such as mental illness, for example, reasonable accommodation could take the form of counselling services.

Naidoo says, “All disabilities and impairments must be diagnosed by a clinician and businesses need to understand that, when under specific treatment, people with these types of impairments can perform equal to an able bodied person. However this can fluctuate and be inconsistent. It’s also important that employers lower the amount of stress in the workplace as it can be a major trigger for psychological impairments.”

When you consider impairment and disability from a B-BBEE scorecard perspective, that’s when it starts to become complex, according to Naidoo. “Some consultants and clinicians draw a strict distinction between impairment and disability. People who are classified as impaired are discriminated against by the B-BBEE codes because they speak to disability and not impairment. This results in a whole category of impaired people who don’t qualify for B-BBEE grants or employment.”

Naidoo believes that the B-BBEE definition of disability results in discrimination against people who are considered impaired as opposed to disabled. “Given that the State grant system recognises people with disabilities and impairment, I believe the inconsistency is in the way that B-BBEE is being interpreted.”

He believes the solution is for each company with specific employment opportunities for people with disabilities or impaired persons to compile their own policy, drawing on the UN convention and local policy, and see what works in their specific environment. “For example it might be difficult to accommodate people in wheelchairs on a factory floor, while they might be perfect for a call centre.”

Speaking to this specific example, Naidoo says workplaces that find they are unable to accommodate people who have a disability or who are impaired, but that wish to benefit from the improvement in their B-BBEE rating, can sponsor individuals to be trained at host businesses that can accommodate this category of person. The sponsor pays for the person’s learnership and wages, providing the disabled or impaired person with an opportunity to get job experience and ultimately a career.

He concludes, “While there is a far wider range of disabilities and impairments than mobility impairments, there’s very much a tendency for workplaces to accommodate people with this type of disability as it’s fairly simple to implement reasonable accommodation in the form of ramps and ablutions. Sensory impairments are far more difficult to accommodate, but I feel that with the necessary research and education far more people with disabilities and impairments can be included in the workforce under the right circumstances.”

Article written by Alison Job and published on ITWeb

EduPower unlocks opportunities in the Contact Centre industry

Brenda Tsolo has a dream. With more than 15 years of experience in contact centres, she knows the sector is ideally positioned to create job opportunities for unemployed, young South Africans. Wanting to be part of the employment solution, Brenda’s vision has been to set up her own contact centre and that’s why she has grasped the opportunity to own and operate a micro call centre – and has a massive goal to grow her business to 500 agents in the next five years.

Brenda opportunity to realise her dream became reality when she was selected as one of the first entrepreneurs to partner with EduPower Skills Academy in its Enterprise Development programme. The brainchild of EduPower’s Director, Rajan Naidoo, the programme seeks to develop black owned contact centres using corporate B-BBEE Enterprise Development funding to help them scale and grow.

“Companies that are B-BBEE compliant are required to spend 1% of NPAT on Enterprise Development. EduPower wants to tap into this funding to set-up at least 20 incubators and help these entrepreneurs build sustainable businesses in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector,” Rajan explains.

Traditionally, the contact centre industry in South Africa is limited to a number of large players as the barriers to entry are high. By setting up their incubators the EduPower contact centre facility, the entrepreneurs are not constrained by many of the traditional costs and overheads related to running a business and this greatly increases their chances of survival and sustainability. And it also increases the chances of these businesses becoming successful enough to create additional employment in the near future.

Now in her third month, Brenda is one of two entrepreneurs who have already been placed in EduPower’s 24-month programme and she already seeing the benefits of a range of hands-on practical training as well as intensive coaching, mentorship and business development. One of the most important aspects however is that EduPower is providing the required work space and infrastructure and her team of three is housed in EduPower’s custom fitted 185-seat experiential contact centre.

“EduPower has given me the platform and I am running with it! Our little incubator is in the contact centre so I have immediate access to all the support that I need for the live campaigns we are working on. And through the ongoing coaching I am learning about the different aspects of owning and operating a business. There is so much to learn but I have access to industry experts who are guiding me in making the right decisions to take my business forward,” Brenda explains.

And those lessons are frequent. Brenda’s team has been working on a campaign in which they were dialling households in the USA which required shift work in order to co-ordinate the time zones.

“It was a great campaign as it presented many different challenges and helped me cut my teeth as a leader. This has been one of the biggest changes for me – making the shift from being an employee to being the decision maker. And the tough decision was to pull the plug on the campaign as it just wasn’t making money,” says Brenda.

Naidoo believes this has been a breakthrough for Tsolo and it has confirmed her placement in the Enterprise Development programme.

“The first step in setting up our incubators is matching the opportunity to the right person. Our entrepreneurs have to have an aptitude for the contact centre industry as well as a driving passion to succeed in their own business. Skills can be learnt but these inherent characteristics are critical for any entrepreneur. Brenda’s decision shows that she is a tenacious leader who doesn’t buckle when there are tough choices to be made,” says Rajan.

Though it is still in its early stages, EduPower’s pilot project for Enterprise Development is proving that this model has the potential to build sustainable businesses which will in turn create much needed entry-level jobs for young South Africans. The company’s biggest challenge however is sourcing funding to sustain this project.

“To be successful, each entrepreneur needs to have a minimum of 10 agents on the dialler and together with infrastructure, the costs for this are R1-million per year. The beauty of our model is that companies investing in Enterprise Development in Year 1 can convert this to Supplier Development in Year 2 as the incubators can work on campaigns for that corporate. One example is data verification – in which the incubators will work on confirming contact information for the corporate’s customers and opt them in for further communication. It’s a wonderful human touchpoint for any business and a cost-effective way for businesses to comply to the new legislation being introduced by POPI. There really are endless possibilities for how these incubators could be used,” Rajan explains.

EduPower’s Enterprise Development programme and its first two incubators have been launched to provide proof of concept and Rajan believes that the model has exceeded initial expectations. He is excited about the future of the entrepreneur incubators and the potential they have to unlock job creation, income generation and ultimately, community development.

More about EduPower Skills Academy:
EduPower Skills Academy is an accredited training provider that delivers quality solutions for Skills and Enterprise Development. With more than 20 years experience in providing training for South Africa’s youth, EduPower services include fully hosted 12-month skills development learnerships, work readiness programmes and a variety of short courses. The company’s highly qualified team of facilitators is complimented by custom-fitted classrooms and a 185 seater experiential contact centre that is a first for the skills development industry in South Africa. Through these leading facilities and resources, EduPower innovative training experiences focus on changing people’s lives for the better through relevant and meaningful skills training.