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Incorporating Learnerships into the Corporate Environment

Work-based learning is a training strategy that provides employees with real-life work experiences where they can apply theoretical and technical skills and develop their employability. Work-based Learnerships deliberately merge theory with practice.
Learn; verb.
  1. Gain knowledge or skills.
  2. To gain knowledge by experience, instruction, or study.
In this document we will investigate the impact Learnerships can have on your business, and the impact your business can have on Learnerships. The questions we will answer include:
  1. What Value is there in a Learnership Programme (Work-based learning)?
  2. How does a Learnership Programme Work?
  3. Is Learnership the Key to Enriching SA’s Economy?
  4. Can Learnerships Benefit People with Disabilities?
  5. Which Incentives Encourage a Learnership Programme?
What is a Learnership?
A learnership is a work-based learning programme which assists employees with gaining qualifications through practical work experience and theoretical learning. The initiative was launched by government to help enable people; to better prepare them for the workplace.
“Learnerships are positive programmes that enhance the education and potential of our youth entering the workforce.”
The government sought ways to transform skills development in South Africa. The main aim of Learnerships is to correct the gap between the current education and training provided, and the needs of the labour market. Learnerships are seen as central to skills upliftment in South Africa.

1. What Value is there in a Learnership Programme (Work-based learning)?

“Even though South Africa has over five million unemployed people, companies battle to find the skills they need to be successful.”
The introduction of Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) created opportunities for South African businesses to launch learnership initiatives as part of their Social and Labour Plans (SLP’s). These learnership initiatives benefit companies as well as employees. Companies have the advantage of additional points on their B-BBEE scorecard while learners benefit from the diverse methods of learning. It is important that your company completes all the necessary documentation in order to claim B-BBEE points and take advantage of tax rebates. These documents include a Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) and Annual Training Report (ATR). Additional B-BBEE points should however not be the only reason you offer work-based learning opportunities. Considering that your learnership candidates can add real value to your company should be a positive motivator. Candidates in a learnership programme will feel encouraged to perform well; they are eager to prove themselves and relish the opportunity to put newly learned skills to the test.
You don’t have to worry about the administrative burden of having your training accredited if you work through an external training provider. Ensure that the provider you choose is certified with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is drawn up at the outset of the project. This agreement maps out the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved. Partners commit to seeing this project through to the end. Work-based learning schedules can be drawn up in such a way that they do not clash with operations. An experienced service provider will be able to balance the theory with the company’s workload. The programme will meet the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) standards. It will ensure that employees are not overburdened; especially those who have far to travel before and after work.

Hire for attitude and train for skill

    A company can find candidates for their programmes in several ways:
  • Recruitment agency
  • Job applicants
  • School campaigns
  • NPO partners
  • Employee referrals
Companies can register existing staff members too: (After all – it is called work-based learning for this very reason.)
  • Research proves that skilled staff members perform better.
  • Candidates are looking for growth on the job.
  • Career paths can be matched with steps to further learning.
  • Educating staff builds future leaders.
  • Employees benefit from a structured learning environment and formal assessment.
  • Learnerships parallel with company needs.
  • Points are earned for B-BBEE scorecard.
Due to the fact that they are directly related to a specific occupation or field of work, work-based learning, in the form of a work based learnership programme, is one which leads to a National Qualification Framework (NQF) qualification. These learnerships are managed by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s). The parties in a learnership agreement are protected by a legally binding agreement. This agreement specifies the responsibilities of the training provider, the employer and the employee.
Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) These organisations are concerned with education and training. Their job is to assist in executing the National Skills Development Strategy and to increase skills in their sector. They cover every industry and occupation. SETA’s are concerned with learnerships, internships, learning programmes, and unit based skills programmes. SETA’s were founded to deal with the many skills development needs. Each SETA manages skills development in its particular sector. The economy has been divided into 23 sectors, they aid in planning and managing the delivery of training. Each sector has its own SETA. The SETA’s cover both the public and private sectors.

What are the benefits for employees?

People aged between 16 and 35 are eligible for a learnership provided they have completed a prior level of learning at another training facility. Unemployed South Africans can only take part in a learnership if an employer is willing to offer the necessary work experience. Employee benefits:
  • Employment contract for the duration of the work-based learning programme.
  • Learnerships improve on-the-job performance.
  • Formal workplace assessment.
  • Better job opportunities after learnership completion.
  • Earn an allowance for the duration of the learnership.
  • Obtain the following qualification: NQF-registered qualification, which is recognized nationally.
In essence, a learnership (work-based learning) is a great way of offering people training as well as work experience. The length of the contract is determined by the company. The employee completes assignments, projects and practical demonstrations.

Terminating a Learnership

An employer can end the contract if:
  • The length of time specified in the learnership agreement has expired.
  • The employer and employee agree in writing to end the learnership contract. If there is no such contract, the SETA that registered the agreement approves the termination.
  • The employee is fairly dismissed on grounds related to their behaviour or competence as an employee.

2. How does a Learnership (work-based learning) Programme work?

A learnership is a structured learning programme which comprises theoretical and practical workplace experiential learning which leads to a work-related qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
Learnerships are a popular way to develop skills and gain bona fide work experience in the labour market. “Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.”
    There are three major role players involved in a learnership:
  • The Employer
  • The Employee
  • The Education and Training Provider
The Employer
The Employer will provide training, guidance and mentoring to the employee. This will allow the employee to gain knowledge and experience in the relative field; enabling them to carry out their responsibilities in the organisation.
The Employee
Each learnership will have different requirements that a candidate must meet in order to be selected for the position. These requirements include aspects like prior education and experience.
The Training Provider
The training provider presents theoretical training to the employee as per the qualification. This is similar to traditional learning foundations and is normally done in a group learning environment. Employees will usually begin with the theoretical learning which will later be applied to practical work experience. That is, work-based learning.
All three roll players will enter into a learnership agreement once the candidate has been accepted. The contract lasts for a pre-determined time period to ensure commitment to the programme from all parties.
The Agreement:
  • Outlines the rights and responsibilities of each party.
  • Spells out the tasks and duties of the roll players.
  • Ensures the quality of the training.
  • Protects the interests of each party.
Learnerships are becoming a popular way to develop skills and gain real work experience in the labour market.
All parties benefit from a Learnership; the learner, the employer, the industry.

How can your business sponsor a Learnership?

Do you want to host a learnership?
Uplift individuals in your community?
Triple E Training can assist your company in this regard.
We offer Learnership Programmes that businesses can put into action.
Learnerships are linked to an occupation. This allows people to further themselves and enter the marketplace with experience in a given field. At Triple E Training, we will take care of the red-tape headache by;
  • Putting learnerships in place on your behalf.
  • Registering your employees with the relevant SETA.
  • Assisting you with your company’s skills development benefits and tax incentives.
Our most popular learnerships are: Business Practice Qualification, Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Activities Qualification & ABET Practice Qualification. What are the benefits of using Triple E Training to host work-based learning in your organisation?
  • Basic qualifications for employees.
  • Skilled, experienced workers who need less supervision.
  • Improved productivity.
  • Identify and solve short-comings in your business.
  • Educate and empower employees; creating a happy workforce.
The Problem
The job market is cutthroat, to say the least. The requirements of finding a job are sometimes out of reach for many people, especially those with disabilities. We cover the specific topic of Learnerships for disabled people in Chapter 4 of this article. A tertiary education and relevant experience are often required by a recruiting company.
Our Solution
This is where the importance and value of work-based learning becomes evident. Although legislative requirements such as the Skills Development Act and the B-BBEE Codes of Good Practice drive companies to implement learnerships, there are other, more important reasons and benefits of implementing a learnership.
Work-based learning (Learnerships) could be the answer to addressing the critical skills gap that exists in various industries and help combat unemployment. 
Did you know? Completing a National Qualification Framework (NQF) Level 4 Learnership is the equivalent of obtaining a matric. Add to this the practical experience gained through a learnership programme and a candidate’s employment opportunities increase exponentially.

3. Is Learnership the Key to Enriching SA’s Economy?

When implemented correctly, learnerships raise employee skill levels. Staff members, with little or no experience, can be up-skilled – helping the individual and the company. Heightened skills lead to more productivity, and a reduction in unemployment. With South Africa’s unemployment rate at a record high, Learnerships are essential to help establish a capable labour force. Work-based learning is the key. Businesses can achieve all of the above with the added benefit of tax incentives and an improved B-BBEE scorecard. These topics will be discussed in chapter 5 of this article.
Triple E Training offers Learnership solutions to help train unskilled South Africans. We equip employees to make a positive contribution in their place of work. In South Africa skills gaps exist in various sectors. This makes empowering the workforce essential. There are enormous benefits to up-skilling your staff through Learnerships. The new work-based skills they obtain will fill the gaps in key areas of our economy.
As more companies implement workplace learning we will see a trend that empowers the workforce.

Multifaceted Benefits

As a business, you can initiate Learnerships to improve your Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard without losing sight of the positive impact workplace learning will have on your company. The following benefits apply:
  • Build an effective labor force amongst your own staff.
  • Amalgamate your employee’s education with their career path.
  • Expand on skills in your workforce and in the community.
  • Create your own pool of trained and experienced staff members.
  • Make use of tax incentives to reduce the cost of training.
  • Allow your Social Labour Plan (SLP) to improve your B-BBEE points.
“Learnerships are an efficient way of making sure that businesses are empowered through a relevant skills base over the long term. On the plus side, they are work-based and performed onsite. Work-based learning.”

Notable Quotes about Learnership

A learnership could be the answer to addressing the critical skills gap that exists in various industries and help combat unemployment. Many employers are unaware of the fact that completing an NQF level 4 learnership can be seen as the equivalent of obtaining a matric. This, along with the practical experience gained through work-based learning, while on a learnership, exponentially increases an individual’s chance of finding employment.
“Employees receive both practical on-the-job, as well as theoretical training, and become more knowledgeable and more accomplished in a specific area of the business. Employers obviously benefit from their employees’ enhanced technical expertise and skills. Learnerships help to develop skills in each employer’s particular industry. These are the skills they will need as their businesses grow and growth is what SA’s economy needs.” Philip Froom.
“Learnerships are also funded for unemployed people allowing unemployed South Africans a chance to enter the workplace – a powerful intervention given our current unemployment statistics. Critically, learnerships benefit the poor who cannot afford the loss of income that would result in full-time studying. We see the positive effect of completed learnerships in the workplace. Learnerships involve a high portion of on-the-job training so work performance and productivity is not negatively impacted. As well as improved B-BBEE points and the learnership tax allowance, employers also benefit from increased loyalty as employees are less likely to leave a company that takes interest in their development and from improved productivity. A study has proven that 86% of learnership participants who completed their training experienced a smooth transition directly into stable employment and 90% reported that they were absorbed by the formal sector in large private and public companies.” Justin Hobday.

4. Can Learnerships Benefit People with Disabilities?

According to data by Statistics SA, around 2.9 million South Africans are living with disabilities, yet only one percent have jobs. Urgent action is necessary to improve employment opportunities among the country’s disabled people.
“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Francis of Assisi
How can you help?
Skills development through Learnership programmes is a good place to start. A concerted effort is needed from both the public and private sector to lower unemployment levels among our disabled community members. The value of learnerships is that they assist in creating jobs and promote work-based learning.
The benefits in the relationship between the employee, the employer and the training provider are numerous. Various Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s) have established well honed learnership programmes.
The statistics are a rude awakening. We need to do whatever we can to assist disabled people through career development, growth and work-based learning. Learnership programmes can make a difference in this regard. Individuals can be trained in work-related skills. This will have a positive impact on the economy and our society.
There are misconceptions that people with disabilities can’t perform certain duties because of their disabilities. Unless society becomes more accommodating towards people with disabilities, especially in terms of ease of access to the workplace, improved employment for this segment of our population will remain unrealistic. The government has made provision for people with disabilities in the Bill of Rights as well as the Employment Equity Act. In the last chapter of this article we revisit the Employment Equity Act. The business and private sector should follow these policy guidelines when recruiting staff with disabilities.
Who will partner with you to assist a disabled candidate?
Non-governmental organisations (NGO’s)
A successful, certified Training Provider
Triple E Training is a unique education and training provider of General Education and Training (GET) and Further Education and Training (FET) for a number of reasons, including our extremely passionate board members! We have stood the test of time through many changes in legislation and frameworks and have continuously adapted in order to add value to the experiences of individuals. Triple E Training is a leading training provider in South Africa. We are determined to revolutionise GET and FET. We are passionate about the development of appropriate education. As the facilitator plays a vital role in making the training and education successful, we do not believe, that at this level, the candidate should be left to their own devices. Work-based learning is our speciality.

5. Which Incentives Encourage a Learnership Programme – Work-based learning?

One way of moving South Africa forward in skills development is by empowering and developing employees through Learnership programmes. While businesses progress and become more competitive, individuals have the opportunity to improve themselves and keep up with industry standards. The results of a learnership programme meet the requirements of the industry; there is credibility in the qualification. Companies have the assurance that candidates are skilled in their qualifications.

Let us look at the costs and incentives associated with Training.

Costs:
  • fees for education and training as provided by a training facilitator,
  • the cost of providing a mentor or supervisor for the candidate,
  • the cost of assessing their progress, and
  • an allowance for those who are unemployed.
  • Incentives:
    Grant disbursement
    Many SETAs offer Learnership grants. The grants are subject to availability and are offered on a first come, first serve basis on the condition that the Learnership addresses a scarce skill in the sector. Therefore you should contact the relevant SETA to find out if learnership grants are available in your particular case.
    Tax incentives
    Tax Incentives are deductions on your taxable income that you can claim for each Learnership candidate that you have in your employment, once at the start of the Learnership, and once again at its completion. The details of the tax incentive are contained in Government gazette No. 23 709 that was published on the 5 August 2002. The entitlement derived from the Taxation Laws Amendment Act, No 30 of 2002. You can find a copy on the SARS website:  www.sars.gov.za 
    Claim at the beginning of the Learnership
    People already employed by you
    Once you have entered into a Learnership agreement with a candidate and have registered the agreement with a SETA, you may deduct 70% of the annual wages paid to that person up to a maximum of R20 000 during the relevant year of assessment.
    Unemployed people
    Once you have entered into a Learnership agreement with a candidate and have registered the agreement with a SETA, you may deduct 100% of the Learnership allowance paid to that person up to a maximum of R30 000 during the relevant year of assessment.

    Claim on Completion of the Learnership

    Your claim can be up to 100% of the annual wage paid to an employee or 100% of the allowance paid to an unemployed person of up to a maximum of R30 000 during the relevant year of assessment.
    Allowance for employees with disabilities
    An employer is allowed to deduct an initial amount of 150% of the annual salary of an employee with a disability, up to a maximum of R40 000. For an employee with a disability, an employer will be allowed to deduct 175% of the annual salary, up to a maximum of R50 000. The tax allowance for people with disabilities upon completion of learnerships will be 175% of the employee’s annual salary, up to a maximum of R50 000. For further details of the tax incentive please consult the SARS website: www.sars.gov.za

    Your B-BBEE Scorecard

    Skills development, through work-based learning, has become a significant feature on your B-BBEE scorecard. You can use Learnerships effectively; to empower and train your staff, and to increase your B-BBEE levels. Successful B-BBEE management contributes to the success of your business. These benefits include favourable procurement on state tenders and in procurement databases. Small businesses can also access mentorship, investment and partnerships through the enterprise development benefit process. Learnership programmes and other skills-development initiatives are excellent tools for improving your company’s BEE status, because they add points to the B-BBEE scorecard. However the learnership must meet certain criteria to qualify for the points. These include having a structured learning component, SETA registration, a formal agreement between the candidate and the organisation, and an NQF-registered qualification on completion.

    Why use accredited training providers?

    There are several good reasons that your company should partner with an accredited training service provider for all its skills development requirements. Some of them include:
  • It is one of the qualification criteria for SETA grants and SARS tax rebates.
  • You can be assured that the quality of training is of high standard.
  • You can be assured the programmes offered are SETA approved.
  • When completing your BEE scorecard, you can claim points against your training expenditure.
  • Our SETA accredited training programmes

    At Triple E Training we offer a wide variety of SETA accredited training programmes. One of the most popular being our Learnership qualifications (Work-based learning). Learnership qualifications have various benefits for your company. It provides basic qualifications for employees and results in skilled, experienced workers who need less supervision. These are not the only SETA accredited prorammes we offer. Contact one of our representatives for a full list.

    Why choose us as your accredit training provider?

    Because we are a B-BBEE Level 1 service provider your company will benefit within the preferential procurement element of the BEE scorecard. Depending on the training programme you choose, your company may also benefit in the BEE scorecard elements of skills development, socio-economic development, and enterprise development. Contact us To find out more about our SETA accredited training programmes call 010 597 7611 or send an email to info@eee.co.za.

    Employment Equity: Where it all began.

    The purpose of the Employment Equity Act, as laid out in the Act itself, is to “achieve equity in the workplace, by a) promoting equal opportunity and fair treatment in employment through the elimination of unfair discrimination; and b) implementing affirmative action measures to redress the disadvantages in employment experienced by designated groups, to ensure their equitable representation in all occupational categories and levels in the workforce.”
    In other words, the aim of the Act is to regulate how people within an organisation are managed in terms of their skills, roles and remuneration in a fair and non-discriminatory manner. Furthermore, an organisation’s processes around recruitment and advancement within the business also need to be managed with the Act in mind. This raises a critical issue for businesses in that, while endeavouring to meet their strategic objectives, they are also driven by an element of compliance. It is critical for organisations to align their compliance requirements with their overall business strategy and objectives.

    Conclusion

    “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” Henry Ford
    Unemployment, skills shortages, poor service delivery, lack of productivity, the chasm between basic education and industry requirements, etc., etc. What can South African businesses do to alleviate some of the economic and social issues plaguing our labour force?
    Although these concerns cannot be solved overnight, Learnership Programmes can make a difference at grassroots level.
    “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela
    The answer may not be an easy one, but it is relatively simple. Do what you can where you can. Start with Work-based learning.
    Source documents:
    it-online.co.za
    eee.co.za
    labour.gov.za
    en.wikipedia.org
    skillsportal.co.za
    skills-universe.com
    progression.co.za