It basically is a structured learning programme during which the learner spends some time learning theory and some time learning practical skills in the workplace directly related to an occupation or field of work, for example, electrical engineering, office management or project management.
A Learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to an NQF registered qualification, managed by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). They were introduced by government to help skill learners and to prepare them for the workplace.
Before the programme is implemented, a contract is drawn up by the employer, the learner and an accredited skills development training provider. Each agrees to specific conditions and the contract protects all parties for the duration of the programme.
The government was looking for ways to transform skills development in South Africa. The primary aim of Learnerships is to address the gap between the current education and training provided and the needs of the labour market. In fact, Learnerships are seen as central to skills upliftment in South Africa.
They aim to address challenges of:
• Decreasing employment;
• Unequal access to education and training, and employment opportunities;
• The effects of race, gender and geographical location on educational advancement; and over and above the skills shortages in South Africa.
There are three parties involved in a Learnership:
The learner, the employer (offering the practical training component in their business) and the education and training provider (offering the theoretical component of the Learnership).
• Learnerships are available for young people between the ages of 16-35, who have completed school, college or learning at other training institutions.
• Unemployed South Africans can only participate in a Learnership if there is an employer prepared to provide the required work experience. The learner is dependent on a contract that legally binds all the parties and requires the learner to be employed by the employer only for the duration of the Learnership where after the employer can decide on whether to continue employment.
• Better employment opportunities afterwards
• Fixed-term employment contract for the duration of the Learnership;
• Learnerships improve on the job performance so they are able to do things relevant to the job
• A nationally-recognised qualification that is relevant to the sector;
• Earning a learner allowance for the duration of the Learnership.
• A certificate of competency for part qualification/skills programmes.
There is a specified minimum learner allowance that must be paid to unemployed learners in a Learnership. This is not a salary but covers expenses like travel and meals.
During the Learnership, learners will be required to complete assignments, tasks and practical tests and projects. They will be formally assessed in the classroom and workplace.
If all these assignments are completed successfully, they will be awarded an NQF-registered qualification, which is recognized nationally. They will receive a certificate stating the qualification and the area of skill development.
If a learner is accepted he/she will need to sign two legal documents:
• 1. Learnership Agreement: this is an agreement signed by the learner, the organisation employing the learner, and the education provider offering the theoretical training component of the Learnership. This agreement clearly outlines the rights and responsibilities of all three parties.
• 2. Employment contract: this is a contract they will sign with the employer, which is only valid for the time period of the Learnership.
An employer can terminate the contract of a Learnership if:
• The duration specified in the Learnership agreement has expired;
• The employer and learner have agreed in writing to terminate the Learnership agreement, or if there is no such agreement, the SETA that registered the agreement approves the termination; or
• The learner is fairly dismissed for a reason related to the learner`s conduct or capacity as an employee.