“I am extremely happy with the project outcome; it is better than I expected. We went into the project not really knowing what it would look like – all I wanted was an impact analysis. Trialogue helped us to articulate the problem statement and design the project and then delivered a quality report. Our programmes did not all come out rosy in all areas, but we are now able to take information from the report and use it in our strategies going forward. We have already started to put in place some of the recommendations.” – Tshepiso Chocho,  Executive Manager: People Management, SASRIA

As South Africa’s public insurer, SASRIA has a special interest in the transformation and professionalisation of the financial services sector. SASRIA’s CSI, therefore, focuses on education and skills development for previously disadvantaged individuals. In 2019, SASRIA commissioned Trialogue to review three of its CSI programmes: two bursary programmes and a professional leadership development programme. The objective of the review was to gain insight into the programmes’ results and to identify opportunities for improvement.

To inform the research design, Trialogue conducted an initial review of best-practice in tertiary bursary and professional skills development programmes. Trialogue then reviewed existing project information and reports for the three programmes, conducted in-depth interviews with the programme managers, and designed and conducted an online survey of a sample of beneficiaries of each of the programmes.

While each of the programmes was found to have produced tangible results, the effectiveness in doing so varied. The key finding of the reviews was that the more effective programmes were those to which more funding and specialist capacity was dedicated to managing the programme. Trialogue therefore recommended a complete redesign of the implementation model for one of the programmes, while for the other two recommendations focussed on changes that could be made to enhance their effectiveness.

The Insurance Leadership Development Programme – a course jointly developed by the Insurance Institute of Gauteng, GIBS and SASRIA to contribute to transformation in the industry at middle management level – was shown to have excellent results. A large portion of beneficiaries reported having applied the learnings from the programme to their workplaces and as a result had been given more responsibilities at work and in some cases even a promotion or salary increase.

The South African Actuaries Development Programme – a tertiary bursary programme for previously disadvantaged individuals studying actuarial science – also demonstrated excellent results. The programme offers holistic support to students at three universities, each with a full-time programme manager stationed at the university. Pass rates are high (over 80%) and most students complete the course in the required amount of time. Of the alumni surveyed, almost all had found jobs immediately with the longest job search reported being one month.

The SASRIA bursary programme – an internally-managed bursary programme – was found to be relatively under-resourced in terms of management capability and expertise dedicated to the programme. The programme manager is too thinly spread to meet the programme’s and students’ needs. Compounding the administrative burden is that the SASRIA bursary supports students in over a dozen institutions across almost all provinces and across multiple disciplines. As a result, the drop out rate is significantly higher, pass rates lower and employment prospects for beneficiaries relatively poor. Although the intention of the programme is sound, high selection criteria do not guarantee that students are able to manage at university and there is insufficient resourcing to assist.