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Daniel Orelowitz | 28 February 2023

Despite being Africa’s most industrialised nation, South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world and is currently struggling with low GDP growth in the thick of global market uncertainty. Economic recovery and growth are desperately needed, but this requires job creation and skills development to meet our country's current and future needs. One of the most effective ways to achieve skills development and job creation is through learnerships. An integrated skills development intervention, learnerships are aimed at promoting growth in employment and facilitating capacity building across sectors to address scarce and critical skills shortages. Learnerships are attractive for businesses since a Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) score and tax benefits are available, however, managing these programmes can be a massive undertaking. Here, it is advisable for companies to partner with an accredited training provider to sidestep the system while gaining all the B-BBEE and tax benefits with none of the associated administrative and compliance burdens.

In short, outsourcing their learnership programmes is the business hack every company needs to embrace in 2023.

What is the big deal about learnerships?

Currently managed by the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), learnerships are directly related to particular occupations and roles. They provide a pathway that leads individuals through to accredited National Qualifications Framework (NQF) qualifications. Learnerships ensure that more people are trained for a specific working environment, and businesses benefit from having a more skilled and experienced workforce. Through such skills development programmes, learners are now able to further their education while employees contribute to the establishment of a pool of skilled labour that can either be absorbed permanently into their organisations or redirected to be of benefit elsewhere in the industry.

In a format that combines structured learning with hands-on work experience, learnerships are key to ensuring that individuals are equipped with the theoretical knowledge necessary to work in their field and the practical know-how necessary to secure a job in that field. As attractive as the business benefits of learnerships may be, companies generally have to source eligible candidates and have them vetted and onboarded, all of which direct time and resources from other core functions of the organisation.

Developing essential skills

An experienced training provider can step in here, and take on the recruitment, enrolment, and management of the right candidates for the company’s learnerships. As training and employee development specialists, it is their core business to help their clients align with the requirements of learnership programmes, such as the Youth Employment Service (YES) programme. This learnership programme provides the company with exceptional B-BBEE benefits, while greatly assisting to close the skills gap in the youth market. An enterprise can participate in facilitating 12-month work experience programmes for unemployed youth by either:

  • Sponsoring and hosting youth within their business

  • Sponsoring placements elsewhere within an existing SME/supply chain

  • Providing hosting to the benefit of a new SME.

How do learnerships benefit employers?

  • From B-BBEE scores to tax incentives, there are several noticeable benefits when implementing learnerships in the business:

  • Contributing to skills development, job creation and economic growth, while boosting the company’s productivity and adding to its value through the employment of skilled, knowledgeable, competent employees.

  • Establishing a pool of properly-trained, experienced employees with critical skills to draw from gives the business a clear competitive edge in the industry.

  • Being committed to skills development positively impacts the company’s B-BBEE status, improving employment equity targets by enabling previously disadvantaged employees or unemployed individuals to upskill themselves and earn qualifications.

  • There are Learnership Tax Incentives that allow employers to claim up to R120 000 per individual that completes their qualification, along with monthly Employment Tax Incentives (ETI) for every employee hired between the ages of 18 and 29.

An all-round win-win

Between recruiting candidates, handling all aspects of their HR onboarding, and payroll, and overseeing their learnership progress and assessments, there can be a lot for businesses to come to grips with. Partnering with a training provider that specialises in youth development is the smartest business hack that ensures everyone benefits - the company gains the full tax and employment equity advantages of learnerships, while candidates achieve their full potential through the successful completion of such programmes.

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


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