Responsibility rests with the black business community, which has not done as much as their white compatriots to support skills development in South Africa. Picture: AFP
Business must do more to help educate students and alleviate South Africa's skills shortage, the SA Institute of Race Relations said on Thursday.
"I annually see the hundreds of potential students that South Africa allows to slip through its fingers. It is very frustrating and very short-sighted," the institute's Pule Motaung said in a statement.
The institute, which had been funding tertiary education since 1935, received over 5000 applications from poor but academically deserving students each year. Motaung said around 10 percent of these had the potential to go to university.
"However bursary providers are able to source funding for only a fraction of these," he said.
In 2011, the institute funded 92 students, mainly from poor homes earning less than R4000 a month. This group recorded a 96 percent pass rate in fields such as medicine, engineering, science, law, and education.
Motaung called on business, particularly black business, to do more to help black school leavers.
"A particular responsibility rests with the black business community, which has not done as much as their white compatriots to support skills development in South Africa."
Businesses had two choices if they wanted skilled employees - train them or import them, Motaung said.