In today's economic climate it has become increasingly difficult for school leavers and their parents to financially support full time tertiary education, writes Claire Fowler, e-earning facilitator at Accsys.

This leaves a large percentage of newly matriculated scholars competing for the same, mundane jobs – those that require minimal skills sets.
For those fortunate few who do get the opportunity to study full time for a professional qualification, the future should be bright.  However, professional qualifications, without underlying skills and experience, are not always easily converted into well paying jobs.
Accsys is addressing this issue within the payroll environment by assisting with both the financial and experiential challenges that face South Africa's emerging workforce.
The company established the Accsys Bursary Scheme in 2007 for learners who want to pursue a career in payroll.  These learners are paid a stipend covering transport and midday meals while working towards a payroll qualification.  The learner is contracted to Accsys for a three year period during which time he or she participates in the two year National Diploma in Payroll Administration offered by Accsys, at the same time gaining work experience by being  exposed to the various aspects of working in a payroll environment.
Currently Accsys has two learners enrolled in this scheme: Sabelo Mazibuko, who started in the Johannesburg office in February 2008, and Tamara Matthews from Cape Town.  The scheme has been expanded to include learners contracted to other companies who realise the importance of this venture and its benefits.
Sabelo has realised that the expectations he had before he started the course were not realistic.  He says, "My expectations for the course were to learn payroll, write examinations and receive my Diploma, but I was wrong. The course offers a lot more. It has proved to be a fantastic opportunity for me."
He has not only been exposed to the theory behind running a payroll, but has been involved in data input for payrolls, as well as assisting with running payrolls in the Accsys Bureau, the company's outsource services division. He has assisted various clients in running their payroll when they have experienced a shortage in available staff, thereby allowing their departments to continue to run smoothly.  He has also spent a large part of his learning in the Accsys Support Centre telephonically assisting clients with queries related to the Accsys payroll software, PeopleWare.
Tamara has been a bursary learner with Accsys since May 2008. She says: "On a personal level I have grown to be more disciplined and responsible.  Professionally, I have learnt to be more committed to tasks and to meet deadlines".  She feels that she has gained a lot of knowledge pertaining to payroll legislation and has a bigger, clearer picture of how a company operates.
Sabelo sees this initiative as a valuable stepping stone into a potentially lucrative career within the financial sector. He believes that the most important advantage of doing this course is that the learner acquires knowledge WHILE working, and benefits from exposure to a modern, professional working environment while developing critical skill sets such as PC literacy.
It will not be long before these learners can confidently state that they have gained the qualification and learnt by experience. Through this initiative they are gaining the experiential learning required to be successful Payroll Administrators.