What is a learnership?
A learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to a qualification that is registered in the National Qualifications Framework. Learnerships are directly related to an occupation or field of work, for example, bookkeeping or office administration. The aims of learnerships are to address the challenges of:
- Decreasing employment;
- Unequal access to education and training, and employment opportunities;
- The effects of race, gender and geographical location on educational advancement;
- and over and above the skills shortages in South Africa.
Who qualifies for a learnership?
Learnerships are available for those who have completed school, college or learning at other training institutions, or for those who are studying part-time. Unemployed South Africans can participate in a learnership programme if there is an employer who is prepared to provide the required work experience.
What are the benefits of learnerships to employers?
As the learnerships are developed by industry for the industry, and in consultation with all stakeholders, the learning programmes and qualifications linked to these learnerships are relevant to the specific occupation. When learners partake in a learnership there is a greater credibility of the qualifications as the employer has the assurance that the learners can demonstrate not only theory competence but practical competence as well.
As learnerships combine both practical a theory outcome of a qualification, they provide skilled people who:
- tend to work more independently, need less supervision and possess enhanced problem-solving capabilities;
- are motivated and strive to add value to the business;
- are less likely to leave a company that takes an interest and invests in their personal and professional development;
- entering into learning contracts with unemployed people contributes to building up the skills pool, from which employers may recruit relevant skills as needed;
- have more skills. The more skills gained, the greater the productivity and the more meaningful the individual’s contribution to South Africa’s global competitiveness and to creating an environment conducive to investment.
By placing un-employed learners on a learnership, the employer has access to a wider pool of appropriately qualified workers who have developed skills that are relevant to the company’s specific work context.
Furthermore, there is an increased return on investment when implementing training initiatives. Not only are there BEE benefits, but there are:
- Higher returns from the Skills Levy and investment in training, due to transfer of learning to the job.
- Increased grant disbursements from Skills Levy contributions. Many SETAs offer Learnership grants ranging from R 4 000 – R 40 000 per learner. However, the grants are subject to availability and are offered on a first come, first serve basis on the condition that the Learnership address a scarce skill in the sector.
- Tax Incentives: SARS offers companies attractive tax incentives for participating in Learnerships. Tax Incentives are deductions on your taxable income that you can claim for each Learnership candidate that you have in your employment, once at the start of the Learnership, and once again at its completion.
- For learnerships entered into after 1 October 2016 but before 1 April 2022:
- The allowance will depend on the NQF (National Qualification Framework) level of the learnership. For NQF level 1-6, the employer can claim a tax allowance of R40,000 (R60,000 for disability) per year and NQF level 7-10, It can claim a tax allowance of R20,000 (R50,000 for disability) per year.
- The employer can claim a R40,000 “completion allowance” for NQF level 1-6 (R60,000 for disability) and R20,000 for NQF level 7-10 (R50,000 for disability).
- If the Learnership exceeds 24 months, then the completion allowance is multiplied by the number of consecutive 12-month periods within the duration of that learnership.
- For learnerships entered into after 1 October 2016 but before 1 April 2022:
What are the benefits of learnerships for learners?
The following are the benefits of learnerships for learners:
- Better employment opportunities afterwards;
- Fixed-term employment contract for the duration of the Learnership;
- Learnerships improve on the job performance so they are able to do things relevant to the job;
- A nationally-recognised qualification that is relevant to the sector;
- Earning a learner allowance for the duration of the Learnership.
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 the workplace.
If all these assignments are completed successfully, they will be awarded an NQF-registered qualification, which is recognized nationally. They will receive a certificate stating the qualification and the area of skill development.
What is required to enter into a Learnership?
If a learner is accepted, he/she will need to sign two legal documents:
- Learnership Agreement: this is an agreement signed by the learner, the organisation employing the learner, and the education provider offering the theoretical training component of the Learnership. This agreement clearly outlines the rights and responsibilities of all three parties.
- Employment contract: this is a contract they will sign with the employer, which is only valid for the time period of the Learnership.
Can a Learnership be terminated?
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 as an employee.
Roles and responsibilities
The following are the roles and responsibilities of each party.
- To register learnership agreements.
- Promote learnerships across all levels and sectors.
- Enter learnership agreement between the employer and skills development provider.
- Actively participate in induction programmes.
- Work for the employer form the duration of the learnership agreement.
- Register with a skills development provider for the theory component of the learnership qualification.
- Register with the ICB for the theory and practical assessments associated with the relevant qualification and learnership.
- To be available for and participate in all theory instruction and structured work experience required for the completion of the learnership.
- Adhere to all workplace policies and procedures.
- Complete all documentation associated with the learnership and complete and submit a workplace portfolio of evidence for assessment.
- Skills Development Provider
- Ensure that they are accredited by the examining body to offer tuition towards the relevant qualification that underpins the learnership.
- Ensure that they meet the quality assurance criteria set by the examining.
- Provide tuition in line with the outcomes of the modules of the relevant qualifications.
- Enquire that learners are registered with the examining body for the national assessments.
- Ensure that they are registered with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology.
- Employer as a workplace provider
- Attain accreditation with the examining body to offer the practical component of the learnership.
- Appoint a mentor to the learner for the duration of the structured workplace component.
- Implement a quality management system to manage:
- Learner induction
- Learner support
- Performance management
- Enter learnership agreement with the learner and accredited skills development provider.
- Enter employment contract with the learner.
- Comply with all applicable labour legislation.
- Schedule and provider learner with appropriate training and exposure to the practical outcomes of the learnership as stipulated in the workplace portfolio of evidence available from the examining body.
- Supervise the learner for the duration of the learnership agreement.
- Release the learner for training and assessments applicable to the learnership.
In conclusion, learnerships are positive programmes that enhance the education and potential of those entering the workforce.