Making learnerships a priority for SA businesses



With South Africa’s unemployment rate at an all-time high, Learnerships are necessary to help build a competent workforce as well as the key to boosting an organisation’s B-BBEE levels in the process.



With South Africa’s unemployment rate at an all-time high, Learnerships are necessary to help build a competent workforce as well as the key to boosting an organisation’s B-BBEE levels in the process.

According to Richard Rayne, CEO of iLearn, a learning solutions-based business and the leader in next generation learning for business in the country, his organisation is committed to training unskilled South Africans in areas of national significance and to produce a calibre of graduates who are strong and equipped to make a positive contribution to the organisation they represent.

Rayne says government has made skills development a priority element of the B-BBEE scorecard and is encouraging companies to put employees through Learnerships in a bid to upskill its workforce. He explains that companies registered with their Sector Training and Education Authority (SETA) and who execute Learnership training according to their Workplace Skills Plan (WSP), can claim back up to 70% of the portion of their Skills Development Levy (SDL) paid over to the South African Revenue Service (SARS) every year. In addition, he says Learnerships also help businesses benefit from tax rebates, which he describes as a “great advantage”.

“Organisations should start seeing the endless advantages of Learnership programmes. It’s not only fundamental for talent management and development, it’s the perfect way to boost B-BEE levels,” Rayne says.

To-date iLearn has partnered with Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS) – experts in air traffic control, Altec Netstar – pioneers in the vehicle tracking and recovery industry, as well as Bata South Africa – global footwear manufacturer and retailer, to demonstrate its commitment to growing the amount of employed disabled workforce in the country through Learnerships.

A Learnership is a vocational training and educational programme that links structured learning with work experience to obtain a registered qualification. It combines theory and workplace practice into a qualification recognised by the National Qualification Framework (NQF). “Skills development is absolutely necessary to boost employment levels in a number of scare skills areas, and a Learnership can help plug this gap.

He explains that since skills development is a priority element of the B-BBEE scorecard, and businesses that achieve less than a 40 percent minimum threshold of skills development points are penalised on their overall rating. A Learnership provides companies with the opportunity to claim eight points provided it invests six percent of its payroll on training people of colour. Further, he says if employers enlist 2.5 percent of employees in Learnerships, the organisation will earn four points and gain an additional four points if the trained workforce is made-up of 2.5% black unemployed learners. There are an additional four points if the organisation trains black disabled employees and the business can claim an additional five bonus points if it’s able to permanently employ the unemployed learners at the end of the Learnership programme.

“Skills development through Learnerships is an imperative for B-BBEE score levels and therefore highly beneficial for South African organisations. Further, it helps to cultivate and develop a talented and highly competent workforce, therefore, it’s important to invest wisely in relevant and quality Learnerships” Rayne says.

How a Learnership will benefit the business:

· Helps to build an effective workforce
· Connects learning to career paths
· Develops skills amongst job seekers and future employees
· Improves B-BBEE scores
· Manages the talent pipeline

“Learnerships are an effective strategy to ensure that businesses are empowered by a relevant skills base over the long term. And the bonus is - they are work-based and delivered onsite,” Rayne says.

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.

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SETA learnership practitioners

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