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While many South Africans earnestly predict an imminent end to the global recession that also took its toll on this country at the tip of the African continent, some people are taking a more pragmatic approach. Some businesses are doing better than others; some are closing their doors, and still others are looking for new ways to reinvent themselves in the hope of surviving the ongoing economic crisis.

But, it’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is that, even in a recession, people with the potential to be good communicators have a chance at creating a new or unexpected career path through opportunities that exist in skills development training.

Training companies in South Africa are reaping the benefits of the corporate response to government incentives for broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE). Those that buy in to skills development training with a view to working with government or parastatals, in particular, will consequently up their BBBEE scorecard and receive accreditation according to the Preferential Procurement Act.

Skills development contributes 15 per cent to the BBBEE scorecard, so the focus is now on upskilling employees with or without experience in a department earmarked for growth. Interestingly, employers are taking the time to develop their own staff in order to improve service levels and create a better long-term customer relationship. This is particularly evident in companies that rely on in-house call centres to manage general enquiries, complaints, orders and accounts-related issues, to name a few.

A recent survey conducted within the local call centre industry showed that 90 percent of companies recruit staff with no prior experience while over half of them run learnerships for new and experienced staff, 87 percent of which are successful.

This is partly due to Recognition of Prior Learning. Employees are motivated to study when presented with the opportunity to further their careers and earn better salaries, following an assessment of their current abilities and work experience, regardless of previous educational qualifications or lack thereof.

The prospect of gaining a formal qualification through financed study programmes is all-important for these employees. It’s a win-win situation.