How Can I Implement a Learnership?

The following main steps have to be taken before implementing a learnership:

  • Choose a learnership
    Iniitially you have to decide which skills you need and if the training needed can be covered by a laernership you want to implement. A list of available learnerships can be found on the Department of Labour’s website. A list of learnerships is available at ever labour centre or can be obtained from the Learnership Support Service at the Department of Labour. Remember – you can choose any learnership irrespective of which SETA developed and registered it.
  • Apply for a learnership grant
    In addition to the 60% of levy, which can be claimed for a workplace skills plan and the implementation report (learnerships are a very good way of implementing training) you may apply for a learnership grant once you have entered a learnership agreement.
  • Establish an employment contract for unemployed learners
    Make sure that you have an employment contract that complies with the learnership determination published by the Minister of Labour for the period of the learnership. The learnership determination document can be found on the Department of Labour’s website, but a copy is also available at each labour centre or can be obtained from the Learnership Support Service.
  • Get copies of the learnership agreement
    A learnership agreement must be signed by the employer, learner and a training provider. Obtain copies of the format of the learnership agreement from SETAs, your nearest labour centre or the Learnership Support Service.
  • Identify a mentor
    Identify the person who is going to be the learner’s mentor within your organisation. This person will guide the learner and help him/her deal with any problems.
  • Choose a provider
    Decide on a provider who will provide the theoretical part of the learnership. Make sure that the provider you choose is accredited by a SETA. If you need help with choosing a provider, contact your SETA.
  • Choose a learner
    • You can choose someone who is already in your employment – as described by the Skills Development Act in section 18(1) – “employed learner: if a learner was in the employment of the employer party to the learnership agreement concerned when the agreement was concluded, the learner’s contract of employment is not affected by the agreement” OR
    • You can choose someone as described by the Skills Development Act in section 18(2): “unemployed learner: if the learner was not in the employment of the employer party to the learnership agreement concerned when the agreement was concluded, the employer and learner must enter into a contract of employment.”

    For an employed learner, you will continue with their current employment contract and you will only have to sign a learnership agreement. For a previously unemployed person, you will have to sign both the learnership agreement and an employment contract. There are also differences in the grants and tax breaks as outlined above.

    If you are going to consider an unemployed learner, the nearest labour centre can assist you in selecting and recruiting the right person. A separate brochure is available from the Department on its recruitment and selection service and the ways in which it can assist you to recruit unemployed people into learnerships.

    Employers who provide training and work experience through a learnership to unemployed people are under no obligation to offer the qualified learner permanent employment once the training is completed. It is hoped that employers will be able to recruit at least some, but even if they cannot, the learners will have a qualification and work experience.

  • Sign the learnership agreement
    There are two contracts that you will need to understand:

    • The learnership agreement
    • The employment contract

    a) A learnership agreement is a legal contract signed by an employer, a learner (or parents and guardians in the case of a minor) and a training provider.

    A learnership agreement specifies:

    • What the training is designed to achieve, for example the qualification that the learner will earn and the skills she/he should be able to perform.
    • What the responsibilities and rights are of the employer, the learner and the training provider.

    b) You will also have to sign an employment contract if you are taking on a previously unemployed learner (18(2)).

    A draft learnership agreement as well as other information on contracting can be obtained from your SETA, from a labour centre or from the Learnership Support Service.

  • Start the learnership 
    Once the above arrangements are finalised, the implementation of the learnership can begin.
  • Employment and Skills Development Agencies (ESDAs)
    The Department of Labour will be implementing a pilot programme for ESDAs over a three-year period commencing late in 2003. The ESDA pilot programme aims to assist with the placement of learners into learnerships within the small, micro and medium enterprise (SMME) sector.ESDAs will be established and will act as the employer of learners. ESDAs perform all the duties of an employer, but they do not provide the work experience part of the training. The ESDA manages the placement of learners with host employers/on-the-job trainers and registered training providers. The hosts are usually SMMEs.The ESDA pilot programme is aimed at providing learnerships for unemployed young people (under 35).The ESDA undertakes a number of associated functions that are usually the responsibility of an employer. These functions include:

    • Direct dealing with government agencies
    • Entering into long-term employment and training contracts
    • Handling all government legislative requirements, such as taxation, payroll or other “red tape”
    • The selection of high quality learners
    • Arranging and monitoring the on and off-the-job training
    • Ensuring suitable on-the-job training by rotation through various employers
    • Counseling and problem-solving for both employers and learners.

    From an employer’s perspective, the flexibility to be able to participate in the training system without the administrative obligations normally associated with learnerships, is a major attraction.