Boston places the spotlight on learnerships

Learnerships combine learning programmes with on the job learning and training. On the job training is supported by structured or institutional learning.

This therefore gives you the opportunity to work while studying towards a nationally recognised qualification. With Boston City Campus & Business College’s extensive track record in corporate learnerships, and the numerous excellence awards it has received from various SETA’s, Boston is currently one of South Africa’s leading training providers and one of the industry’s leading authorities on learnerships.

According to Dr Deonita Damons, HOD Learnerships at Boston, some of South Africa’s top companies will participate in learnerships over a vast terrain of disciplines. One of the outcomes of participation in the training becomes immediately evident in the contribution the corporates make to the economy through upskilling those who are underprivileged, unemployed or currently employed.

Learnership agreements are entered into between the Learner (Employee), the Company (Employer) and the Training Provider, with each party having a vested interest in the success of the training intervention. These learnerships hold numerous other benefits for all parties involved.

“Companies who run corporate learnerships receive major tax benefits. In financial terms this means that the employer can claim R80 000 off their gross profit for each employee they have put through a corporate learnership programme, and for each disabled employee they get R120 000 as a rebate from the SA Revenue Service. Learnerships are a real way to impart skills and to gain work-place experience, whilst at the same time addressing the aim to alleviate youth unemployment,” says Damons. “It is vital that this effort includes a substantial financial reward to the company”.

Damons explains that employers with a payroll of or more R500 000 per annum, must pay a 1% skills levy to SARS. This levy is then distributed to Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) within the sector they operate. Companies must plan their skills development interventions (training) in advance by completing and submitting a Workplace Skills Plan(WSP) to their appropriate SETA. The due date for these plans is 30 April annually.

With the Broad‐Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) codes South African businesses have little choice but to participate in corporate learnership programmes. Otherwise it will be impossible for them to reach their BBBEE score card points.

According to Damons, six percent of the company’s wage-bill must also be spent on training black employees in line with the BBBEE scorecard. Many companies do see the benefit in this as they’ve grown tired of the recruit, train and head-hunting cycle and realise that learnerships are a great way to grow and maintain their own talent pipeline.

A learnership qualification runs for 12 months, with 30% being knowledge based through training contact time, and 70% is experience based through work-place training. While the corporate selects its desired training provider for its employees, unemployed youth are encouraged to approach their SETA to apply for a corporate funded learnership.

“South Africa has a fundamental skills shortage and SETAs work with their sectors to reduce the skills barriers. Organisations must find ways to equip their employees with the correct skills, and plan ahead by submitting their workplace skills plans (which include plans to run learnerships) to their appropriate SETAs. There are an estimated 4.3-million people who are unemployed, and most of these individuals require skills training. Many Grade 12 learners who leave school every year require additional skills to enter the formal work sector of the economy. Graduates with university degrees who are also unemployed find a learnership is an excellent way to enter the formal world of work,” says Damons.

For companies it becomes a question of which training provider will best meet the need to empower their employees. To this Damons says that “firstly it’s all about successful placement. Boston’s corporate learnerships for example, are so successful that a 70% placement rate is achieved for its Debt Recovery learnership. It’s also important to offer greater flexibility, especially whereby learnerships can be scheduled over weekends or in a shift programme or by offering the programme at the employer’s place of work. As important is the scope of different programmes on offer”.

Boston currently offers 46 different programmes under the learnership auspice, and including Boston’s occupational framework. To find out more about Boston’s corporate learnerships programmes, please visit www.boston.co.za