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, and are managed by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).
Learnerships involve a legally binding agreement between an employer, a learner/student and a Training Provider.
Businesses/companies can implement learnerships and skills development in the work-place, whether it's to contribute to the company's own talent pool, or to make a positive impact on the education in South Africa.
Usually, learnerships combine theoretical knowledge with practical applications, while teaching students valuable life skills at the same time, that will later open up better employment or self-employment opportunities.
In this way, more people are trained for a specific working environment, and businesses benefit from having a more skilled and experienced workforce. Learnerships can serve as a good tool for multi-skilling, as it develops the competence of employees in every component of the work processes within an occupation.
The people selected to participate in a work-based learnership (whether it's an outside candidate or someone within the company already) can receive targeted training in line with a company’s specific needs.
With learnerships, both the company and the student can gain mutually beneficial results. Companies can continuously learn from the students employed through a learnership, and the students can learn from the company. The opportunities and advantages for both groups are so worth it.
Learnerships and their associated work-based training can be the answer to addressing a company’s critical skill gaps. When companies plan their spend timeously, identifying the right learnerships for their businesses can save money and give them necessary points.
Employers who sponsor learnerships can gain concomitant SARS tax benefits as well as B-BBEE value, while also building a talent pool of individuals with skills that are relevant and of high quality. This will ensure that the business continues to meet the terms of procurement agreements and will be to their advantage when bidding for new business.
Companies that contribute to the country’s Skills Development Fund (SDF) through paying the mandatory skills development levy will find a number of important benefits if they include learnership in their annual Workplace Skills Plan (WSP).
Learnerships allow companies the opportunity to capitalise on a variety of tax rebates, grants and reimbursements. For example, should you pay your Skills Development Levy to SARS, register with the relevant SETA, submit your WSP (Workplace Skills Plan) and ATR (Annual Tax Return) each year, you will qualify for further reimbursements on your SDL spend which can, in turn, be used to pay for training.
Not only are the abovementioned benefits a plus to implementing learnerships in a company, but the real motive is to progressively empower a business with the necessary skills.
The Learnership programme was developed in South Africa as a modern way to advance apprenticeships to meet the modern demands of the workplace. Learnerships also manage to formalise the learning and workplace experience - which is usually sadly lacking in internships offered by companies.
Another significant benefit of Learnerships over internships is that Learnerships come with a formal pay structure where learners will be paid a monthly stipend, or payment, for the time they are on the Learnership. Also, internships do not have a learning component, while Learnerships are all linked directly to a formal qualification.