How often have you wished you could get a certificate or a qualification for the work you do? But you can’t because you have to work to feed your family. Today this dream is becoming a reality through the Learnership programme.

More and more it is becoming possible to get a qualification through a Learnership that is recognized, because you attended a registered academic institution and applied your learning in your workplace. You can do this over a period of a year while you work, with the help of your employer. There are benefits for employers as well, including SMME owner/managers.

What is a Learnership?
A Learnership is not the same as a qualification but rather how to get to there. It is a road you agree to take to obtain a qualification in your field. It can cover any kind of work in any industry, whether you are an electrician, a baker, a supervisor, a quality controller, or any other function for which there is a defined need.
It stands on two important legs: learning that you get through doing your job and learning that you get through studying. So as a registered learner on the programme you spend time gaining practical skills in the workplace and time learning the theory behind your kind of work. For example as an electrician, you learn to install electrical components and cabling whilst doing your job, but the theory of how electricity works has to be learned by studying.

Andy – I think we need to insert a practical paragraph on how it works … I have invented some words pse panel beat into place I’ve done this in the paragraph above – is it O.K?

How to get started
• The learner decides what kind of qualification s/he wants to go for
• The employer checks out with his SETA that there is a recognised Learnership programme in place for that type of qualification and identify a service provider to assist with the studying of the theory .
• An agreement is signed between the Learner, the Company and the service provider (academic) that sets out the rules and regulations governing the Learnership.
• The employer pays for the training and eventually receives tax rebates and grants provided the rules of the agreement are adhered to.

Benefits to SMME employers
There are major benefits in the Learnership Programme for employers as well are, some of these are:
 Increasing the skill levels in your workforce
 good to know there is a pool of skilled workers out there if you need more trained people
 increased productivity and performance from your workers because they are motivated and excited about the work they do
 a skilled workforce increases your share of the market and makes you more competitive
 You are making a valuable contribution to the economic growth and development of the country.
 The skills development grant through your SETA

Financial incentives for employers
These incentives are very attractive for the employer. You benefit from
 the skills development grant through your SETA. The amount depends on your SETA
 Employers can also claim a tax incentive when you register a Learnership agreement with your SETA (check with your SETA as to what additional incentives they offer – each SETA differs). Remember, only Learnership agreements that are formally registered with your SETA will qualify. The South African Revenue Service (SARS) will check with your SETA before approving the claim. Details of the tax incentive are contained in Government Gazette No. 23709 that was published on 5th August 2002. You can visit SARS website for a full copy: www.sars.gov.za (select first legislation, then Acts, then Act No. 30 of 2002).

How Learnerships started
The Learnership Programme is one of the ways Government aims to improve skills, create employment and reduce poverty and although anyone may participate it is especially aimed at the small business
The programme has been developed by the Department of Labour and the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS).

Win win situation
The Learnership route is by far the most exciting concept to hit South African industry in the last decade. It offers vast opportunities to both employer and employee and will go a long way to relieve the serious skills shortage in our country.

Want more information?
Contact SAQI associate training consultant Andy Greenwood at the College of Production Technology, telephone 0860 278 278; 082 966 1853; e-mail: andy@cpt.co.za

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