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Home » Youth Month: taking action through learnerships – Part 1

Youth Month: taking action through learnerships – Part 1

To highlight Youth Month, the following article written by Daniel Orelowitz, managing director at Training Force, looks at addressing youth unemployment and boosting business B-BBEE rankings. This is Part 1 of a two-part series.

Daniel Orelowitz, managing director at Training Force.Photo by Training Force
Daniel Orelowitz, managing director at Training Force.Photo by Training Force

South Africa’s youth unemployment rate is staggeringly high with 66.5% of all unemployed people currently between the ages of 15 and 24. This figure increases annually as more than 500 000 matriculants enter the workforce and tertiary institutions, only to be met with a lack of real opportunities. This ultimately leads to discouraged job seekers who become disengaged. In comparison to other developing nations, South Africa’s economy is vibrant and advanced.

There is the potential to create opportunities for all who live in South Africa, and with this in mind, the government has begun offering incentives to businesses that facilitate learnership programmes. This is a significant opportunity for companies to upskill the unemployed and the employed, as well as their staff, and by simply funding training, companies can gain the means to improve their Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) ranking. By joining forces with the right training partner, organisations can ensure that the full benefits are realised by both the company and the learners that participate in the programmes.

Overcoming obstacles through hands-on training

What is the biggest obstacle for school leavers as they become job seekers? The fact that it’s almost impossible to get a job without experience, and it’s impossible to gain experience without a job. Learnerships are a unique solution to this age-old impasse because they bring together invaluable workplace experience and industry-relevant training in a manner that produces a versatile individual with the required knowledge and a level of practical experience to find and fill a position within that specific sector. A learnership is a structured work-based programme that runs over 12-24 months during which the learner is exposed to theoretical and practical on-the-job training that relates to a specific occupation, whether it’s engineering, financial services or business process outsourcing.

Leveraging learnerships

As such, learnerships are the pathway to a registered qualification on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) that is managed by the relevant Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). The benefit for the sponsor (or funding company) is that learnerships contribute towards the company’s employment equity objectives, in addition to enhancing skills development internally. The government also offers tax incentives and cash grants in addition to B-BBEE rating incentives to companies for participating in learnerships. So, what does this mean for companies looking to run learnership programmes, or looking to optimise or expand existing learnership programmes? Does it mean they have to build the capacity to run and manage these learnerships in-house, at great effort and even greater expense? No. Although companies cannot run learnerships unless they have the right training accreditations, they do not have to reinvent the wheel to benefit when it comes to learnerships.

Continued in Part 2…