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01 Jun 2011

Skills Shortage In SA In Financial Sector Being Addressed At Grass Roots

The continuing skills shortages experienced in SA, particularly in the financial and wealth management sectors, has seen many organisations battling to recruit suitable employees with the right qualifications and skills.

Addressing this at a grass roots level, Foord Asset Management is supporting a variety of educational initiatives that invest in the skills of the next generation.

Paul Cluer, CEO of Foord Asset Management explains how the organisation is supporting an initiative called LEAP, which is a Science and Maths school that was founded in 2003 and is the only privately funded maths, science and technology school in South Africa.

“LEAP aims to transform disadvantaged communities throughout SA via education initiatives focused on mathematics and science.  The school partners with specific communities to provide their children with the opportunity to gain access to tertiary study opportunities.”

“The school currently relies on private funding and donors and Foord identified the school’s need to establish an endowment fund to provide ongoing financial support in the long term,” explains Cluer.  “To this end, Foord contributed seed capital to an endowment fund which Foord manages free of charge. It is hoped that over time, through contributions and superior investment returns, the endowment fund will grow to be substantial, resulting in a sustainable income source for the school.”

In addition to LEAP, Foord also sponsors a chair in investments at Rhodes University.  This chair aims to promote the study and understanding of investments and investment management.   Cluer says that through the chair, Foord hopes that the subject of investments will be included in as many degree courses as possible. “This will ensure broad-based understanding of the subject, which we believe to be a critical skill.”

“Our sponsorship of an investments chair is a specific strategy. Rather than endorse bursaries from which just a handful of students may benefit, we believe that funding one skilled and passionate educator will provide life-skill learning to a far greater number of people.”

“Last, but most certainly not least,” says Cluer, “Foord are also committed to the support of a non-profit organization called Bridge, which aims to build the capacity of the education system to expand, to adopt working practices and emerge into a resilient performing platform.”

The organisation concentrates on the four areas or school leadership and management; teacher development, accountability and evaluation; addressing socio-economic barriers to learning and the provision of teaching materials and early childhood development.

“In May 2010, Foord Asset Management committed to funding the cost of employing a Chief Executive Officer for a three-year period and in June of the same year, Bridge appointed Ms Linda Vilakazi-Tselane to the position of CEO.”

At Foord we believe that it is essential to support educational initiatives if we are to address the issues of skills shortages and unemployment in SA.  We plan to continue supporting such projects as these and urge other organisation to do the same,” concludes Cluer.



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