How to make learnerships a success for your business
By Shannon Ash, Rogerwilco - Jun 12th, 15:11
Over recent years, more companies have been encouraged to invest in skills programmes for a fruitful, successful business future. While some companies are still struggling to up their B-BBEE score, others have incorporated all these factors into their annual Workplace Skills Plan (WSP), undertaking skills programmes either for their own benefit or simply to contribute to better education in South Africa.
A learnership is one of the most affordable and rewarding opportunities for South African business owners. Put simply, a learnership is a work-based learning programme which aims to provide the learner with the necessary skills development and growth they need within your company. Similar to the internship programme, learnerships include practical workplace experience, however, they focus mainly on skills development. And, because learnerships are a recent initiative, managed by the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA), there are strict criteria when implementing a programme.
These programmes commerce over a period of at least 12 months, leading to an occupational related qualification which is registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). How it works is that once employers have agreed to accept learnerships as part of their educational contribution to society, candidates are interviewed and chosen according to their skills, experience and interest in your particular industry. Once the candidate has been chosen, a contract is drawn up by the employer, the learner and an accredited skills development training provider or outsourced department, which can advise you on the next step. Each party agrees to specific conditions and the contract protects everyone for the duration of the programme.
Many large corporations have latched onto this concept, but the benefits for smaller businesses are equally worthwhile. When you look beyond the time-consuming paperwork and administrative costs, the benefits do not only sit in the financial savings but also in the talent you create from upskilling your employees. Growth through some sort of training and human development programme is highly recommended in any department, no matter the industry or size of your organisation.
Here are a few benefits of learnerships for your business’s success:
B-BBEE scorecard improvement: Since the update in Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment legislation, more businesses are required to commit to human capital development as a way to up their scorecard rating and create a better future for their business and for the employees themselves. Not only do learnerships act as a benefit for your rating, but it means that you’re contributing to a better tomorrow for underprivileged, unskilled individuals. Often times, learnerships boost talent potential, adding so much value to business organisations that candidates become full-time employees for the company.
Long-term, quality hires: Once you get to know your learnership employees over the duration of their contract, they might turn into valuable employees who are needed in your company. This is positive because companies get to train employees into skilled individuals who they want in their companies, without always having to look for and recruit new talent. This is both time-consuming and expensive for employers when employees don’t turn out to be a success. Of course, there will always be a handful of people who are likely to leave after a learnership but, either way, you are contributing to the skills growth of the country, which has a direct impact on job creation and economic conditions.
Tax benefits: One of the major perks of learnerships is that businesses are able to claim when a learner enters and completes a training programme. While there are standard processes and procedures that need to be completed in order to claim, you can also claim from SETA if the learnership covers scarce skills. In addition, if the employee becomes permanent, you can claim employment tax.
How to get started
Applying through a company like Proud Afrique will give your business the opportunity to work with a collection of accredited companies which can offer facilitation training and skills development courses for any person at any level in any department of any company in any industry. Working with a partner can take away the administrative burden of having to personally acquire B-BBEE accreditation or find someone who is trustworthy enough to take on SETA certifications on behalf of your company.
Programme providers must have the experience to design a programme in such a way that the schedule does not conflict with important, day-to-day tasks. You will need to obtain a learnership programme that balances these conflicting needs, and because of your skills contribution, your chosen company (or partner) will need to complete an annual training report (ATR) and submit it to SETA. By doing so, it will enable you to achieve the B-BBEE points you deserve for your skills contribution.
Learnerships are a smart solution for the future. In fact, the long-term benefits of skills programmes are far bigger than the financial reward. If you want to take the opportunity to explore these learning programmes, you will need to put together a skills planning strategy that puts your organisation’s best interests at heart. Start by consulting with a professional who can help you make a positive change.
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