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About Learnerships

Learnership is an alternative form of training that places the emphasis on practical experience. A contract is signed between three parties: the training provider (college), learner, workplace (company).
Each learner enters into a temporary employment contract with the workplace.
Learners attend theory classes either one day per week or one week per month. The work that is taught in class (theory) is then practised in the workplace.
There is therefore close cooperation between workplace and College.
Learner spends most of his/her time in workplace. Main benefit therefore: practical hands on training in a work environment.
A learnership consists of a structured learning component and practical work experience of a specific nature and duration and culminates in a full qualification registered with SAQA. A learnership is set up as follows:
A learnership programme is composed of
Training at a college (± 30%)
Practical experience in the workplace (± 70%)
Both learnerships and skills programmes are meant for people who are already employed as well as people who want to enter the workplace.
Learnerships are composed of SAQA unit standards, which have a total number of credits depending on the qualification level reflected on the NQF. Unit standards are components or building blocks of NQF qualifications. Each unit standard is formulated in such a way that it can also be used as a skills programme.



Type of Qualification

Typical learning Providers

Higher Education and training Band (HE)

8 Doctorate & Further Research Degrees Universities, Professional Institutions & Technikons
7 Master & First Research Degrees Universities, Professional Institutions & Technikons
6 First Degree & Higher Diplomas Universities, Professional Institutions & Technikons
5 Diplomas & Occupational Certificates Universities, Professional Institutions & Technikons

Further Education and Training Band (FET)

4 Grade 12 High School,
College & Workplace Certificates
Public & Private High Schools, Public & Private Colleges,
Occupational Colleges and Training Institutions, National,
SETA & Organisation-based Education and Training Schemes
3 Grade 11
2 Grade 10

General Education and Training Band (GET)

1 Grade 9 Senior Phase Public & Private Primary Schools and High Schools, Private Colleges and Training Centres
  Grade 7 Intermediate Phase
  Grade 5 Foundation Phase
  Grade 3 Pre-school Phase



Both the College & workplace must be registered with the relevant SETA.
A learnership requires the following documentation pertaining to all three parties involved:

  1. Learnership contract: A contract must be signed between the company and the learner for the duration of the learnership.
  2. Learnership agreement: This is a legally binding agreement between the employer, the learner and parent / guardian (if the learner is under 21 years of age) and the training provider and must be registered with the relevant SETA

Learnership vs apprenticeships

Learnerships build and improve on apprenticeships.
Like with apprenticeships, learners will spend some time working under the guidance of a skilled worker and some time learning theory.
But unlike apprenticeships, learnerships:
Will apply to all parts of the economy;
Fit into the National Qualification Framework (NQF).
Will give the learner a qualification registered by SAQA.
Will cover more levels than the apprenticeships.
People who qualify will be able to move on to professional and other qualifications.

Advantages of joining a Learnership

  • Training according to the Skills Development Act
  • Special needs of companies can be met
  • Extra hands for a Learner's allowance
  • Higher profit through well-trained staff
  • Own selection of Learners
  • Learners are “normal” employees; adhere to rules of your company
  • Terminated Learnership-contract (no obligation to take on a Learner as full-time employee)
  • Help with accreditation
  • Train Learners to meet your standards
  • Training opportunity for untrained employed staff and unemployed Learners
  • Tax deduction for each learner with registration as well as on completion
  • Training is done in a well known environment for the learner
  • To uplift standards in SA


About Skills

Skills programmes are programmes that are occupational based and, when completed, will constitute credits towards a full qualification registered in terms of the NQF.
Both learnerships and skills programmes are meant for people who are already employed as well as people who want to enter the workplace. Skills programmes are SAQA unit standards. These skills programmes can alternatively be building blocks for a full qualification.
So a number of different skills programmes relating to a particular occupation will together bring a person to the same place as a learnership.
Skills Programmes add up to a learnership:

Let's take the example of a driver's licence, and see what the different steps are to learn how to drive:

First you need to study the rules of the road. This is like the theory part of a learnership.
Then you write a learner's licence to see that you know the theory and are qualified to go on the roads. This is the theoretical test. Then you need to get the practical skills of driving, through driving, through driving under the supervision of a driving school, your parents or friends. This is like the practical learning part of a learnership.
Then you do practical test to check that you have the Competence
Finally, you get your certificate – your driver's licence.

Skills programmes vs learnerships

The skills programmes differ from learnerships in some important ways:
They are smaller in size than learnerships (i.e. a learner can learn an individual piece of work – resulting in a small cluster of unit standards – rather than have to take on an entire qualification).
They emphasize the skills aspect (training) of the learnership, rather than the education aspect (although the underpinning knowledge is fully integrated in the outcomes).
The exit point of skills programmes are largely prescribed by the needs of the learner. In other words a learner is able to choose those aspects of a learnership that make sense to him/her, whilst building toward a full qualification.

Who will pay for training, and how?

The employers who benefit pay. Under the Skills Development Levies Act all employers who pay a certain amount or more in monthly wages and salaries or who pay income tax must pay the levy. Employers who use a skills development facilitator and who make and implement a workplace skills plan can claim money back. This is an incentive, or reward, which encourage employers to provide training for their employees.
Employers who are up-to-date with the payment of their skills levies, will be able to claim these grants from their SETA they belong to for learnerships each time a Learnership Agreement is entered. Their SETA is the one with whom they are registered as an employer and to whom they pay their levies. These grants will only be available once learnerships are registered with the Department of Labour.
The relevant SETA will inform the employers about these arrangements.


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