“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.” –Theodore Roosevelt
What is a learnership?
A learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to an NQF registered qualification. Learnerships are directly related to an occupation or field of work, for example, electrical engineering, hairdressing or project management.
Learnerships are managed by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). They were introduced by government to help skill learners and to prepare them for the workplace.
Learnership programmes can help you to gain the necessary skills and workplace experience that will open up better employment or self-employment opportunities.
Why are learnerships important?
Learnerships promote access to education and training, as they allow you to work and get started on your career while also studying for an educational qualification.
SETA’s oversee learnerships and ensure that they offer qualifications related to a specific occupation or sector of the economy. All 21 SETAs have developed NQF-aligned programmes that will help you gain recognised qualifications while getting on-the-job experience.
SETA’s manage the registration of learnerships in order to meet the skills development needs across the sectors.
Why were learnerships created?
The government was looking for ways to transform skills development in South Africa. In the past, education and training and workplace experience did not always provide a direct link between theory and practice.
To address this, the Skills Development Act and the Skills Levies Act were passed by Parliament, and structures and processes to transform skills development in South Africa were put in place.
The primary aim of learnerships is to address the gap between the current education and training provided and the needs of the labour market. In fact, learnerships are seen as central to skills upliftment in South Africa.
Learnership aim to address the following challenges:
• Decreasing employment;
• Unequal access to education and training, and employment opportunities;
• The effects of race, gender and geographical location on educational advancement; and
• The skills shortages in South Africa.
How do learnerships work?
Learnerships require you to complete a theoretical course as well as practical training, which are done at a workplace, in order to graduate. The workplace component of the qualification involves hands-on, practical learning under the guidance of a mentor, while the theoretical component is provided by an education and training provider. Together they form an integrated and comprehensive learning programme.
Top Tip: The number of credits needed to graduate varies from learnership to learnership, so make sure that you understand the minimum requirements if you want to complete a learnership. Find out from the relevant SETA.
Who are the parties involved in a learnership?
There are three parties involved in a learnership: The learner, the employer (offering the practical training component in their business) and the education and training provider (offering the theoretical component of the learnership).
Who is eligible for a learnership?
Learnerships are available for young people who have completed school, college or learning at other training institutions. You must be older than 16 and younger than 35 to be eligible for a learnership.
Unemployed South Africans can only participate in a learnership if there is an employer prepared to provide the required work experience.
In fact, a learnership is dependent on a contract which legally binds the learner, the employer and the education and training provider. This contract requires the learner to be employed by the employer only for the duration of the learnership. Once the learnership has been completed, the employer can decide on whether to continue to employ the learner or not.
How to participate in a learnership?
By now you have already put some thought into your career path, and as a result you will be able to identify a learnership that will support your career goals. Your career path should be influenced by your interests, skills and strengths. The responsibility rests with you to investigate and research the different learnership options. You should find out as much as you can, including information on the criteria and requirements for entering a learnership.
What are the entry requirements?
Different learnerships have different entry requirements. We recommend that you contact the provider of the learnership for full details on the specific requirements for the learnership of your choice.
For many learnerships, the minimum entry requirement is a National Senior Certificate or National Certificate: Vocational, but there may be more specific subject requirements or even skills requirements such as computer literacy.
What are the benefits for learners?
• You may have better employment opportunities after completing a learnership;
• You have a fixed-term employment contract for the duration of the learnership;
• Learnerships improve on the job performance so you are able to do things relevant to the job;
• You obtain a nationally-recognised qualification that is relevant to the sector; and
• You earn a learner allowance for the duration of the learnership.
How much does a learnership cost?
Learnerships are generally funded by a relevant SETA. Since the cost of learnerships varies across SETA’s and types/levels of qualifications, you should contact the relevant SETA for more information.
Will the learner be paid?
There is a specified minimum learner allowance that must be paid to unemployed learners in a learnership. This is not a salary but covers expenses like travel and meals. Again, you should contact the relevant SETA for more information.
How long does it take to complete a learnership?
Learnerships will last as long as it takes to complete the qualification. This means that if the duration of the qualification is two years, then the learnership will last for that period of time.
What does a learner receive on completion?
During the learnership, learners will be required to complete assignments, tasks and practical tests and projects. They will be formally assessed in the classroom and workplace.
If all these assignments are completed successfully, they will be awarded an NQF-registered qualification, which is recognised nationally. They will receive a certificate stating the qualification and the area of skill development.
What is required to enter into a learnership?
If you are accepted you will need to sign two legal documents:
1. Learnership Agreement: this is an agreement signed by you, the organisation employing you, and the education and provider offering the theoretical training component of the learnership. This agreement clearly outlines the rights and responsibilities of all three parties.
2. Employment contract: this is a contract you will sign with the employer, which is only valid for the time period of the learnership.
Will I get a job after completing the learnership?
Once you have successfully completed your learnership, you will be in a much better position to market yourself as you will now have both work experience and theoretical training. You may also be in a better position to start your own business and generate an income that way.
Can a learnership be terminated?
Yes, a learnership can be terminated under certain circumstances.
An employer can terminate the contract of a learnership if:
• The duration specified in the learnership agreement has expired;
• The employer and learner have agreed in writing to terminate the learnership agreement, or if there is no such agreement, the SETA that registered the agreement approves the termination; or
• The learner is fairly dismissed for a reason related to the learner`s conduct or capacity.