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Daniel Orelowitz | 23 March 2023

When starting a learnership or training programme in South Africa, several crucial steps must be taken to ensure that the programme is compliant and that learners receive the appropriate certification upon completion. Such administrative steps are extensive and can get complicated quickly - from registering the learnership programme and obtaining the approval of the relevant Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) to ensuring that the training programme meets the requirements of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). From a people perspective, accredited facilitators and assessors must be engaged, and learners must be recruited, on-boarded and managed, while regular progress reports must be submitted to the SETA. All of which adds up to an unreasonable amount of work to expect a company to handle in-house.

The overwhelming business of learnerships

Companies undertaking such programmes must also be prepared to tackle immense administrative burdens such as manual document collection and quality checks, recruitment of learner candidates and suitable hosting, as well as lengthy and time-consuming programme registrations. Then comes the need to oversee portfolios of evidence along with internal and external moderation, all of which demand constant follow-up with the various SETAs that are all severely understaffed.

Frustration and extensive paperwork

One of the biggest sources of frustration is dealing with SETAs, whose approval processes can take up to eight months, causing unnecessary delays. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts, and learners and businesses must wait for the approval. This cycle of constant following-up and continuous waiting is taxing on internal resources and their time and can become extremely discouraging. The challenges of dealing with the various SETAs can be tough concerning disabled learners, or learnership outside the company's sector. In addition, running learnership programmes requires a lot of technical paperwork, and each SETA has its strict submission requirements and format preferences. This causes a huge headache for both learnership participants and the organisation responsible for managing the programme. If training is not the organisation’s core business, it can be exhausting for employees to handle the extra workload. Hiring additional full-time staff might seem cheaper at first, but the costs can add up quickly, and managing these new employees is simply another problem for someone else to deal with.

Learnerships: whose burden is it, anyway?

Considering the value of learnership programmes in addressing our country’s skills and unemployment crisis, businesses should not have to face these bureaucratic hurdles unassisted. Nor is it logical for them to handle the stresses and headaches of learnership programmes alone. Instead, businesses should focus on their core revenue-generating activities and delegate the responsibility to training experts. By partnering with an accredited, reputable, and experienced training provider, the immense pressure of learnerships can be greatly reduced. This is because training partners have established relationships with the SETAs and are familiar with their specific regulations and procedures.

Outsourcing efficiency and results

A worthy training partner will have honed their efficiency at tackling every aspect and detail of training and learnership programmes, assuming total responsibility thereof for their client companies. By partnering with a specialist training provider (rather than keeping it in-house) companies can outsource their headaches and ensure that their budget and resources allocated to training are efficiently utilised, without the need to manage the performance of internal resources. Furthermore, an experienced training partner makes possible learnerships and training programmes beyond the scope of the company’s focus or industry. Practically speaking, if a company handled learnerships in-house, they’d only be able to offer three or four learnerships, but by joining forces with a training provider, they gain efficiency and cost-effectiveness on an unimaginable scale - with immediate access to up to 42 different learnerships and all the necessary trainers and materials required for each certification.

More skills, more jobs

A reliable training services provider will help businesses create clarity from confusion by taking responsibility for the administrative burden of learnerships, and setting up and running critical programmes that are compliant and recognised by the necessary skills development authorities. Not only will this help learners obtain their certifications as quickly and effectively as possible, but it also helps companies to achieve their training and skills development goals effectively. In so doing, this can open funding and Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) opportunities for companies that can make learnerships a mutually beneficial process that is instrumental to filling educational gaps and increasing skills levels in South Africa. In turn, this will aid in critically addressing unemployment by creating the skills needed to fill the jobs that feed and grow our economy.

‘Disclaimer - The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the BEE CHAMBER’.


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