With this in mind, Standard Bank, through its Personal and Business Banking Learning and Development department, instituted the Banking Skills Academy (BSA) in August 2008. The objective of BSA is to afford unemployed youth an opportunity to enter the world of banking and in so doing, addressing the long-standing skills shortage in the financial services industry in South Africa. BSA is a virtual academy, which will in time host a number of Standard Bank specific learnership programmes across different areas in the bank. This effectively addresses skills shortages in any banking environment, even outside of the South African Skills development landscape (although funding opportunities will be different and the initiative may be more costly). As the learnership includes two role-based curricula (telling and enquiries), the opportunities of placing competent learners in permanent positions in Standard Bank, upon completion of the Learnership, becomes a mutually beneficial reality.
The Banking Skills Academy concept BSA is a 12-month national learnership programme for unemployed matriculants under the age of 30 years. It provides integrated training programmes to help inexperienced job seekers to start a career in the financial services industry and includes skills programmes such as:
Numeracy and literacy;
The financial services regulatory landscape;
Basic credit and investment principles;
Two frontline competency/role-based curricula (e.g. telling and enquiries).
Besides training, learners are also exposed to real-life working environments with the goal of applying their learning in a workplace setting (like the branch) with the guidance of a workplace coach. Learners are required to complete workplace assignments and assessments to prove that learning has taken place.
At the end of the learnership, the hard work and efforts of successful learners are awarded in the form of a National Certificate in Banking, which is transportable across the financial industry. This means that when the 12-month contractual obligation expires with the bank, the learners can seek employment with any employers in the economy (although the intention would be for Standard Bank to consider employment of all competent learners in any business areas within the personal and business banking units, with preference to the areas in which they have been trained). Creating a pipeline for future resource needs within Standard Bank and the broader financial services industry is thus achieved.
Why it worked for us Although the Banking Skills Academy learnership was not the first learnership to be hosted by the bank, it was indeed the first learnership where we actively managed the recruitment and selection process to ensure that the most suitable candidates were granted an opportunity to participate. Although daunting, it resulted in a 100% completion and pass rate of the remaining learners at the end of July 2009, when the learnership concluded. A renewed focus was also placed on the upskilling of workplace coaches to support and guide these learners during their practical application in the workplace, putting into motion the systematic upskilling of team leaders as coaches for the workforce in general.
We believe that focussing on the right and relevant things through streamlined skills development initiatives, the bank will address critical resource demands in a pro-active and cost-effective manner and skills development opportunities can become an integral part of the employee value proposition, making sure the bank continues to attract and retain talented people.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deirdre Crous is the Director of Learning and Development in Standard Bank’s Personal and Business Banking. She has vast experience in HR management and consulted to numerous business portfolios in Standard Bank. She was also Group HRD Manager at African Bank. Deirdre believes that people ultimately makes the difference and when afforded with a basic, yet effective toolset, they can achieve so much more. .
About Standard Bank Standard Bank is a multinational financial institution currently expanding into Global Emerging Markets with approximately 50 000 employees globally. Its main operations are divided into three distinct categories namely: Personal and Business Banking; Corporate and Investment Banking; and Wealth Management – each with its own set of strategic objectives aligned to the group’s strategic goals to ensure we achieve our vision. In Personal and Business Banking, the focus is on retail banking and other financial services to individual customers and small- to medium-sized enterprises throughout South Africa, Africa and Argentina.