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 A learnership is an ideal opportunity for business owners looking to support individuals, employed or unemployed, who do not have a qualification higher than a matric certificate.
A learnership is an ideal opportunity for business owners looking to support individuals, employed or unemployed, who do not have a qualification higher than a matric certificate.

Tips for starting a learnership programme at your company


By Shannon Ash, Rogerwilco - Sep 10th 2018, 08:22

When you start your business in South Africa, B-BBEE training and certification are rarely at the top of your priority list. But as you find your feet, you are expected to take steps to create opportunities to improve human capital in South Africa for a successful economic future for all.  

Most employers shrug off the need to invest in human capital development, without realising how much these opportunities could benefit their own company as well as their personal growth and scope in years to come.

A learnership is an ideal opportunity for business owners looking to support individuals, employed or unemployed, who do not have a qualification higher than a matric certificate. Work opportunities for these individuals are non-existent, simply because companies would rather hire experienced, qualified individuals to do the job rather than those who require training before they’re able to perform in a particular field. However, there are many long-term benefits for both parties. For one, you might acquire a stellar performer to join your company, and two, you’re contributing to a greater purpose as you’re supporting skills development in South Africa.

Wrapping your head around learnerships

Learnerships are commonly implemented over a six- to 12-month period. During this time, business owners or managers are required to guide and assist a learner with on-the-job training and mentoring to help them complete their assessments. These programmes cover both theoretical training and practical task-by-task guidance, where a learner can choose to leave the programme at any time or continue for the duration of the six- to 12-months.

The idea here is that you give someone the opportunity to learn and grow in their chosen environment. And, should the professional who is mentoring and helping them be interested in employing them thereafter, he or she gets first pick. The learnership process is, however, based on a legal agreement between three parties, the company, the learner and the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), to ensure that all terms stipulated in the contract are met.

Making a change for the better

With an unemployment rate in South Africa of 26.7 percent, millions of young people lack the skills and knowledge required to be employed. If more B-BBEE certified companies invested in a learnership programme, they would be contributing to this community and the economy as a whole. Of course, there are incentives involved in learnerships, namely cash grants and tax incentives to sweeten the deal, but just knowing that you’re giving someone the opportunity to enjoy the dignity of a stable job and possibly his or her own company is a massive reward.

The amended B-BBEE codes that came into effect in 2013 made it possible for businesses to claim the incentives when a learner enters and completes a training programme. While there are standard processes that need to be completed in order to claim, you can also claim from the SETA if the learnership covers scarce skills. Then, if the employee becomes a permanent staff member, you can claim employment tax.

Here is a guideline on how to start a learnership in 2018 for your company:

Choose your learnership option: To start, choose the type of learnership you want to host. If your business operates in a scarce sector, the advantages are even bigger. You can view the different learnership options on the Department of Labour's website or you can consult with a provider such as ProudAfrique to find out about the different options and what is best suited for your business environment. There are more than 170 of these SETA-accredited programmes available, so make sure that whatever you choose is SETA registered.

Apply for a learnership grant: Once you have chosen your learnership option and have entered into an agreement with SETA, you can apply for a learnership grant. This is in addition to the levy pay, which is a cost that can be claimed as a result of the workplace skills plan and implementation report.

Write up a legal contract: The contract you put together must be separate from any employment contract you already have. A learnership contract needs to comply with the correct procedures and protocol in order to be accepted. This can be discussed with your service provider. Be sure to make copies of your agreements for safety’s sake, and ensure that each party has a copy and that all pages are signed and witnessed as legal documents.

Identify an internal point of reference: Also known as a ‘mentor’, you will need to assign a particular person in your business to assist, train and guide your candidate. This step will go hand-in-hand with the preferred partner you choose to work with. ProudAfrique, for example, can put you in touch with the correct SETA-accredited training provider for the theoretical section of your learnership programme.

Identify the type of learner you want to hire or train: Determine the type of learner you want to invest in – he or she could be employed, meaning they are already employed by you but you want them to improve their skills; or you can choose inexperienced individuals to train “from scratch” and help them grow into employment or a career.

Final thoughts

The initial stages of a starting your own learnership will involve some back and forth, but ProudAfrique will facilitate the process to cut down on the red-tape phase of your initiative. Once the paperwork is sorted and you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve, the rewards are massive. Learnerships are a wonderful opportunity for your business to contribute towards education in South Africa, and make tomorrow a better place for all.


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