Unemployed learners in South Africa can qualify for learnerships if there is an employer ready to provide them with the necessary work experience. This is a wonderful opportunity for unemployed learners to progress in their careers.
It is high time that learnerships get the credit they deserve. Learnerships are powerful and effective training methods and are one of the greatest catalysts for long-term employment in South Africa for the past 20 years.
Despite their incredible ability and track record for transforming lives, learnerships continue to be undervalued and undermined by South Africans. Learners and sponsors alike must come to the realisation that learnerships have the greatest potential for closing the experience gap in South Africa.
For unemployed learners, learnerships provide valuable work experience and a formal qualification; while employers sponsoring learnerships can gain concomitant Sars tax benefits and B-BBEE value, as well as a talent pool of individuals with relevant, quality skills.
Therefore, learnerships are an excellent instrument of compounded value for all stakeholders.
Why Are Learnerships Beneficial For Unemployed Learners?
As mentioned in our article, Skills Development Points & 7 Important Soft Skills Required For Upskilling At Work, South Africa faces a high unemployment rate, especially among youth (around 40%), and a shortage of skilled and qualified people to fill positions in different industries. Therefore, learnerships play a pivotal role, and where businesses can invest in developing the practical skills and theoretical knowledge needed in their businesses, while radically changing the lives of unemployed learners.
A learnership is a structured work-based programme over 12-24 months whereby the learner undergoes theoretical and practical on-the-job training related to a specific occupation – from engineering to insurance to business process outsourcing. It leads to a registered qualification on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and is managed by the relevant Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).
Learnerships are unique to South Africa and were introduced by the government to transform skills development and education in South Africa. Check out our E-Learning where you can learn selected courses 100% online.
Seven Powerful Benefits For Employers & Unemployed Learners
- Learnerships are developed by the industry, so the skill sets are aligned to the requirements of the specific businesses operating in the sector, developing well-rounded candidates who have a good grasp of all the work processes.
- Employees learn new skills and knowledge that are applied in the workplace, which means improved standards, productivity, and quality of work for companies.
- There are significant tax rebates and achievement of employment equity objectives, more so for companies who provide ongoing employment (absorption) once the learnerships are completed. Learnerships earn points on the BEE Scorecard under both Employment Equity and Skills Development and there is a SARS tax rebate if the learnership is a registered learnership with the Department of Labour and relevant SETA. This Tax Rebate is calculated per learner – a disabled learnership for example could translate into an R100k tax rebate for a 12-month period. Skills levy contributions can really work for the benefit of the company, its people, and communities
- Job prospects for unemployed learners are better with theoretical and occupation-specific training backed by a nationally recognised qualification. This is a way to achieve a formal qualification when tertiary education at a university/technical/FET college remains out of reach for those who cannot afford the tuition costs.
- The fixed-term employment contract for the duration of the learnership often results in permanent employment upon completion if the learner has performed well.
- There is an opportunity to constantly upgrade and widen skills sets and knowledge. It makes excellent business sense for the employee and employer.
- An allowance/stipend for the duration of the learnership helps significantly with costs such as transport, meals, and so on.
Who Qualifies For a Learnership?
Anybody between the age of 16 and 35, and who has completed school or college qualifies for a learnership program.
More so, unemployed learners also qualify for learnerships if there is an employer ready to provide them with the necessary work experience. In this case, the learner is legally bound by the contract between both parties (the learner and the employer). It is also required of the learner to be fully employed by the employer for only the specified period of the learnership program.
However, at the expiration of the learnership program, the employer may decide whether to continue with the employment or not.
Investing In Growing South Africa’s BPO Sector Through Learnerships
An area of focus for SA Business School is the fast-growing industry in Business Process Outsourcing. It is in high demand for skilled people and something unemployed learners can work their way towards.
As a top offshoring destination, SA’s BPO sector is primed to employ 500 000 people in the next 10 years according to Business Process Enabling South Africa (BPESA). SA Business School, a SETA-accredited training provider within Alefbet Holdings serving the broader BPO industry has brought a significant differentiator to its learnerships by introducing an ‘executive edge’ to its training formula.
In the BPO sector, academic, technical, and interpersonal skills training enable unemployed learners and employees to develop their career paths across different job roles and disciplines. Fundamental to anyone operating in such a customer-driven environment is the proficiency in ‘soft’ skills such as empathy and the high EQ needed to collaborate with people in a pressured environment.
For this reason, SA Business School puts learners through an Enneagram programme which is a powerful tool for personal self-knowledge and understanding, conflict resolution, team dynamics, leadership, and developing emotional intelligence. Learners also undergo a comprehensive self-assessment with the Future Fit Index which assesses their effectiveness in the 15 critical skills needed to be effective now, and in the future world of work.
Typically, these tools and training would only be available at an executive management level for people with years of work experience. However, we believe that grasping these skills at an early stage in career development helps guide young people starting out on the learnership path to take control of their career progression, much earlier on. The skills they derive in such a learnership environment are applicable to virtually every business and industry.
There can be no more powerful tool to progress South Africa’s unemployed learners than by investing in learnerships. It is good for business, industry, the economy, and most fundamentally, for learners breaking out of hardship, unemployment, and poverty.