The dilemma of having qualifications with no experience remains a challenge with organisations who try to bridge the skills gap in both the skilled and professional labour factions. This challenge is often compounded by economic factors such as the low employment rate.
In 2014, Debtsource, a specialist credit management company that provides complete solutions for any business that extends credit to their customers, established a learnership programme assisting students who complete their diploma in credit management to become competent and well-rounded credit management specialists.
“The aim of the learnership programme is not only to open doors for employment in the credit field but to address a unique skills requirement. We often found that candidates who have experience working in a credit bureau or as a credit controller weren’t fitting the required profile of a researcher or analyst in this field.” says Mary Cass, Operations Manager at Debtsource.
Business-to-business credit management is multifaceted and can therefore create a challenge in terms of accessing a candidate with all the required skills, as most candidates entering this field have specific experience in either credit control or debt collecting. Additionally, a small number who have completed some form of credit management programme are not usually exposed to the entire field. Debtsource identified this challenge and developed a model which has holistic outcomes for candidates who successfully complete their diploma with the practical part of credit management to open the door for employment in the credit field.
The programme has been a major success, with Debtsource having trained 13 students and permanently employing 6. Cass adds that the programme does not only take on learners for Debtsource’s benefit, but also enables those learners who complete the one-year programme to be work-ready, fully accredited professionals in the credit management field.
Petros Mhlongo and Katleho Eunice Mkwane are two exemplary candidates currently undergoing the learnership programme. Petros Mhlongo from Vaal in Evaton West is a qualified credit management graduate from the University of Johannesburg. He chose credit management because it is aligned with his passion for business and his ability to think logically and solve problems. He believes that participating in this programme will enable him to run a business one day as his end goal is to become a successful entrepreneur.
Katleho Eunice Mkwane is an accounting graduate, with an advanced diploma in accounting completed with the University of Johannesburg. She enrolled in this programme because she wanted to increase her knowledge of credit insurance and believes that the programme will help keep her on track with everything happening in the industry. This needs constant development of new skills in the industry which the programme offers.
“Learnership programmes are a great way to address skills shortages in any sector, however, organisations must be mindful not to take a blanket approach to these programmes. They must target a specific problem and provide a direct solution that will have positive sustainable outcomes.” concludes Cass.