ABSA Bank Limited

Category: Large Company, Employer: 150+ employees

Absa Bank’s Interpretation of Good Practice in Skills Development.

Absa Bank deems good practice in skills development to be an inclusive and integrated skills development system that is responsive to the needs of the economy and society as it is at present, and also in future. The aspiration is to build a skills development system capable of meeting higher expectations than those that exist currently, while creating a sustainable and integrated solution that will have real impact on the economy, development and the communities it serves. Absa offers clients, customers and colleagues innovative solutions in the banking and financial services industry, keeping up with their changing requirements. Absa is constantly developing learning initiatives to develop leadership skills that encourage and support innovative thinking.

“The main commodity in today’s marketplace is leadership and innovation, and the currency of this is talent. Almost without exception, the most effective organisations are shifting from standard business management tactics to an enterprise-wide emphasis on leadership development and talent management.” – Unknown.


The primary purpose of employed skills development interventions is closing skills gaps and the strategic management of scarce and critical skills. These programmes are accessible to all employees. Absa Bank’s offices are located in major cities due to centralisation of tasks, and this is where the bulk of employees work. This makes it a challenge to attract the best learners from underprivileged/rural areas.

However, with an employee value proposition that offers superior educational support in the shape of, amongst others; Learnerships, internships, graduate programmes, work- integrated learning programmes and bursaries, it is possible to attract them and help them improve their qualifications and employability. In addition, this leads to financial inclusion in the mainstream economy of South Africa.

Absa is extremely pleased to announce that the Corporate and Investment Bank Masedi Programme has been chosen as the overall winner in the ‘Investing in Young Women Award’ category for the Gender Mainstreaming Awards 2016.


These programmes are particularly aimed at addressing the social imperatives of South Africa in a meaningful manner. Absa Bank aims to provide unemployed matriculants and graduates alike with a formal qualification and workplace experience through these initiatives.

Absa’s recruitment process functions on a risk-based methodology, is underpinned by sound labour law practices and is supported by Absa values based interviews. Unemployed people are potential employees that are treated with the same respect and integrity as Absa colleagues, customers and clients. Despite the normal recruitment practices, referral by word of mouth amongst colleagues has proven to be exceptionally successful.

Of particular importance amongst these programmes are the Adopt-a-TVET and the Rising Eagles graduation programmes. The latter boasts a 100 percent absorption rate.


Absa Bank’s talent management plan incorporates BANKSETA programmes in providing solutions of skills shortages. Examples include; IEDP, CMD, Kuyasa, Letsema, and various niche programmes that address business specific needs in terms of pipeline which addresses scarce and critical skills. BANKSETA has been most receptive of Absa’s needs, i.e. Africa Expansion Programme, IT/Tech Funding as well as the re-skilling of employees.

BANKSETA has approved a considerable portion of the pivotal grants that Absa applied for. While the self-funded component far outweighs the funding received, the grants greatly enable Absa to implement further critical learning projects, and reinvest in further opportunities to develop the youth of South Africa in relation to the new skills which are required by the world of work.

In 2016 Absa promoted 55 employed learners as a result of the success that they achieved on their BANKSETA- funded Learnerships. This translates to a 4.73 percent promotion rate amongst the employed learner population.


Absa offers clients, customers and colleagues innovative solutions in the banking and financial services industry, keeping up with the changing requirements of our customers and clients. Absa is constantly developing learning initiatives to develop leadership skills that encourage and support innovative thinking.

This is evident in the design of the various in-house leadership programmes which focus on helping newly appointed and experienced leaders navigate complex business environments and solve critical business issues in creative and innovative ways. Another area which has performed particularly well is the digital space. Two such flagship programmes are the Barclays Management Arts Development Programme (BsMart) and the Digital Academy. These programmes address scarce and critical skills, i.e. management and leadership, as well as digitisation.

Colleagues have taken like wildfire to a brand-new learning portal, LearningforAfrica, which was designed by the learning community internally, in collaboration with end users.


BAGL introduced 120 graduates/Rising Eagles to the world of work in 2016, with an absorption rate of 100 percent.

To date 165 delegates have been enrolled on the BsMart programme, 45 delegates have completed the programme successfully and a further 45 will complete the programme by the end of 2016. The programme is so effective that it has been booked in advance for most of 2017.

During the annual Absa Hackathon in July 2016, the Digital Academy Interns won an award based on an app which they had developed. They received a prize of R 10 000. Participation in the event offered phenomenal exposure to the interns. To date there have been 120 beneficiaries of the programme, with 54 interns placed within Absa based on top talent in order to gain hands on work experience. At present, 54 percent of the interns placed within Absa have received further opportunities in the form of temporary and permanent employment.


Absa Bank’s learning policies provide for the reasonable accommodation of PWDs. This includes adjustments made to accommodate the specific disability, e.g. sight can be accommodated by providing the learner with a large external screen, or large print material, but also by providing support from a wellness perspective, i.e. a more holistic approach, e.g. appropriate spectacles or medical procedure. Another consideration would be reasonable access at learning and examination venues, transport to and from venues, etc.


Quality education is one of the most effective tools through which the youth will realise their purpose and ambitions. Absa Bank believes it is its responsibility, as a key economic player, to ensure that it leverages its resources and skills to contribute to building a more prosperous Africa for the next generation. Absa remains committed to achieving this in a sustainable manner. As a bank, Absa is committed to shared growth, which means having a positive impact on society and delivering shareholder value. Education and skills development are central components of this, hence its huge investment in this sector.

Absa’s colleagues also play a key role in its commitment to empowering the youth. As an example, the sponsorship team hosted a high school soccer tournament in Soweto, reaching over 500 young people. In doing so the bank was able to not only inspire the young people through sport, but also introduced them to ReadytoWork.


BANKSETA has taken the lead in the creation of several specific occupational qualifications to address the sector’s scarce and critical skills agenda over the past year. Absa Bank has participated in the development of two of the QCTO approved qualifications, i.e. Bank Note Processor and Compliance Officer. This involved attending workshops, interacting with other stakeholders on the project and providing industry expertise. The scope of the involvement covered the design and development of the knowledge and practical skills modules, the workplace experience requirements and the assessment specifications for the curriculum.

Absa’s Compliance Subject Matter Experts participated in the process and also facilitated the pilot training intervention for the Interbank Compliance Project – FICA and NCA.

The bank nominated 11 employees for the Risk Officer pilot and five have been approved for participation.