What Is A Learnership?


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A learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to an NQF registered qualification. Learnerships are directly related to an occupation or field of work, for example: electrical engineering, hairdressing or project management.


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A learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to an NQF-registered qualification. That is: a learnership combines theoretical (classroom) and practical study to lead to an official, recognised qualification.

Learnerships are managed by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

They were introduced by the government to help skill learners and to prepare them for the workplace.

Learnership programmes can help you to gain the necessary skills and workplace experience that will open up better employment or self-employment opportunities.

Learnerships are based on legally binding agreements between an employer, a learner and a Training Provider.

This agreement is intended to spell out the tasks and duties of the employer, the learner and the Training Provider.

It is designed to ensure the quality of the training and to protect the interests of each party.

A learnership requires that a learner enter into a fixed term employment contract with the company whilst studying towards a qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which is in line with the learnership (the cost of the qualification falls to the Company).

Once the qualification is completed, the learnership will also end.

Why are learnerships important?

Learnerships promote access to education and training, as they allow you to work and get started on your career while also studying for an educational qualification.

SETAs oversee learnerships and ensure that they offer qualifications related to a specific occupation or sector of the economy. All 21 SETAs have developed NQF-aligned programmes that will help you gain recognised qualifications while getting on-the-job experience.

SETAs manage the registration of learnerships in order to meet the skills development needs across the sectors.

How do learnerships work?

Learnerships require you to complete a theoretical course as well as practical training, which is done at a workplace, in order to graduate.

The workplace component of the qualification involves hands-on, practical learning under the guidance of a mentor, while the theoretical component is provided by an education and training provider.

Together they form an integrated and comprehensive learning programme.

Top Tip: The number of credits needed to graduate varies from learnership to learnership, so make sur e that you understand the minimum requirements if you want to complete a learnership. Find out from the relevant SETA.

Who is eligible for a learnership?

Learnerships are available for young people who have completed school, college or learning at other training institutions.

You must be older than 16 and younger than 35 to be eligible for a learnership.

Unemployed South Africans can only participate in a learnership if there is an employer prepared to provide the required work experience.

How to participate in a learnership?

By now you have already put some thought into your career path, and as a result, you will be able to identify a learnership that will support your career goals.

Your career path should be influenced by your interests, skills and strengths.

The responsibility rests with you to investigate and research the different learnership options.

You should find out as much as you can, including information on the criteria and requirements for entering a learnership.

What are the entry requirements?

Different learnerships have different entry requirements.

We recommend that you contact the provider of the learnership for full details on the specific requirements for the learnership of your choice.

For many learnerships, the minimum entry requirement is a National Senior Certificate or National Certificate: Vocational, but there may be more specific subject requirements or even skills requirements such as computer literacy.

What are the benefits for learners?

  • You may have better employment opportunities after completing a learnership;
  • You have a fixed-term employment contract for the duration of the learnership;
  • Learnerships improve on the job performance so you are able to do things relevant to the job;
  • You obtain a nationally-recognised qualification that is relevant to the sector; and
  • You earn a learner allowance for the duration of the learnership.

How much does a learnership cost?

Learnerships are generally funded by a relevant SETA.

Since the cost of learnerships varies across SETAs and types/levels of qualifications, you should contact the relevant SETA for more information.

Will the learner be paid?

  • There is a specified minimum learner allowance that must be paid to unemployed learners in a learnership.
  • This is not a salary but covers expenses like travel and meals.
  • Again, you should contact the relevant SETA for more information.
  • Note: The amount paid as a learner allowance depends on the SETA, type of learnership and the level of qualification.
  • The allowances and conditions are agreed to with each learner before the commencement of the learnership.

How long does it take to complete a learnership?

  • Learnerships will last as long as it takes to complete the qualification.
  • This means that if the duration of the qualification is two years, then the learnership will last for that period of time.

What does a learner receive on completion?

  • During the learnership, learners will be required to complete assignments, tasks and practical tests and projects.
  • They will be formally assessed in the classroom and workplace.
  • If all these assignments are completed successfully, they will be awarded an NQF-registered qualification, that is recognised nationally.
  • They will receive a certificate stating the qualification and the area of skill development.

What is required to enter into a learnership?

If you are accepted you will need to sign two legal documents:

1. Learnership Agreement: this is an agreement signed by you, the organisation employing you, and the education and provider offering the theoretical training component of the learnership. This agreement clearly outlines the rights and responsibilities of all three parties.

2. Employment contract: this is a contract you will sign with the employer, which is only valid for the time period of the learnership.

Will I get a job after completing the learnership?

Employment is not guaranteed, but once you have successfully completed your learnership, you will be in a much better position to market yourself as you will now have both work experience and theoretical training.

You may also be in a better position to start your own business and generate an income that way.

Can a learnership be terminated?

Yes, a learnership can be terminated under certain circumstances:

An employer can terminate the contract of a learnership if:

  • The duration specified in the learnership agreement has expired;
  • The employer and learner have agreed in writing to terminate the learnership agreement, or if there is no such agreement, the SETA that registered the agreement approves the termination; or
  • The learner is fairly dismissed for a reason related to the learner’s conduct or capacity as an employee.

For more information, contact the SETA which manages the learnerships in the field in which you are interested.

Source: SAQA

Browse available learnerships here

Suggested Article:

Leanership candidate compiles a CV

Learnerships are a critical part of transitioning from an academic to a professional career. A good Curriculum Vitae is the first documented record that will give your potential employers an idea of your capabilities. 


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