There are a number of factors that present challenges to the South African education system, including a lack of skilled teachers, poor infrastructure and poverty. When it comes to tertiary education, particularly PhDs, these challenges persist.
“Manpower South Africa believes in the power of education, and is interested in assisting female graduates in acheiveing their PhDs,” says Lyndy van den Barselaar, MD of workforce solutions provider Manpower South Africa. “A small survey was carried out amongst some female, South African graduates and professionals, to find out whether or not they are looking into carrying out their PhD studies, what their biggest challenges are in this regard and what kind of assistance they would find useful.”
It was reported in 2014 by Higher Education South Africa that South African universities produce an inadequate number of doctoral graduates. In 2010 for example, the country produced 1 423 doctorates, compared with 2 244 PhDs from just one university in Brazil – a country with a comparable economy.
However, there are some factors combatting these challenges, such as considerable investments from local government towards increasing PhD production; improving supervisory capacity among academics; providing incentives for students to remain in the system up to doctoral level; and supporting jobless graduates in work experience in science, engineering and technology institutions.
“Our survey found that most of the respondents faced similar challenges,” explains van den Barselaar.
* The most cited challenge was that of balancing work, studying and having a family to take care of.
* Another significant challenge was that of time management between work and studying, where management were not open to giving time off or flexible hours.
* Financial constraints were also cited as a common problem for most respondents.
“When asked what kind of assistance they would find most valuable in helping them to achieve their goals, most of the respondents said finaincial assistance and mentorship and guidance.
“As corporate South Africa strives to put more females in management and board positions, the need for female education becomes increasingly important. As a leading workforce solutions provide we want to do our part to assist with this.”
Van den Barselaar explains that Manpower South Africa is part of the 30% Club South Africa,  a group of chairmen, CEOs and senior partners of organisations internationally that are committed to bringing more women onto boards because they believe it’s benefeicial to the overall effectiveness of the boardroom – and therefore for business. Focus is also placed on the executive pipeline to create sustainable change.
The aim is to achieve the 30% goal of women on boards in South Africa by 2018. The campaign has achieved notable success in a relatively short period of time internationally.