What is a learnership?

A learnership is a means of obtaining a qualification while working. It is made up of unit standards.

The unit standards are of three types: Fundamental unit standards (which cover literacy and communication, and basic mathematical skills).

Core unit standards, which are central to the qualification, all have a range of elective unit standards. Learners are able to choose which are the most suitable for their occupation and most applicable to their workplace.

The third type of unit standard is the elective, which can be selected from a range of units, depending on the type of qualification the learner is applying for.

While a qualification consists of theory-based learning that can be gained at a university, a learnership is a means of gaining a unit standard based qualification. The work experience makes the difference between the two kinds of learning.

Two routes

o One: an employer may decide to run a learnership. In this case, you will benefit because you can develop your career through the learnership.

o Two: if you’re unemployed, a training service provider will run a learnership and assist you in finding placement at a workplace.

How does a learnership in South Africa work? Companies form a relationship with a training service provider, for example an FET college, and the trainer either comes to the workplace (if there are enough learners), or the learners attend a training program run by the training provider.

How do I get on a learnership? If you are currently employed, and there is a learnership that you believe would benefit you in your occupation, you can approach your training committee in your company or your manager/ supervisor / HR department to ask them if they would consider running that learnership at your workplace. If you are unemployed, there are training service providers who do train people on learnerships. They may help you find an employer where you will gain the workplace experience.

Do I get paid while I’m at the training program? Yes! If you’re employed when you start your learnership, then your employer will pay for your time while you attend the training, and also for the time while you’re being assessed.

What are the requirements? These will depend on the qualification you’re doing. Each is set at a certain level. Each qualification lays out what the entry level requirements are.

And if I’m unemployed? If I was unemployed when I started, then the employer will give me an employment contract for the period of my learnership. There’s no guarantee at the end of the learnership that I’ll be employed, however, if I’m one of the top students in the learnership it’s highly likely that the employer will want to keep me.

What’s the likelihood of my finding employment with another employer? When the government set up the skills development structures and NQF, one of the principles was portability. The idea being that you can take your qualification with you – it’s portable. And because the NQF provides the level, other employers can tell immediately what level of qualification you have. And sometimes, qualifications can be moved across industries.

How is that possible? Unit standard based qualifications are core to many qualifications, so once you have core unit standards, you can simply add on additional unit standards to obtain additional qualifications. Numeracy, literacy, attendance at meetings, occupational health and safety in one factory is the same in another factory!

Employers look for students who are reliable, on time, have a good attendance record, as well as those who have a good academic record.

Is there much BEE in the post-qualification selection process? Although there is no specific BEE requirement, employers are usually keen to employ previously disadvantaged people with qualifications. Employers want to meet employment equity targets and goals, and in our national skills development strategy, we have targets for the training of previously disadvantaged persons. These national development targets form part of what Setas are required to achieve.

If I have already obtained some unit standards in a qualification, how can I get recognition for them? You can be assessed for what you already know via the Recognition of Prior Learning Scheme. If you’re employed, your employer might be prepared to do it for you, because larger workplaces have people who are trained assessors. You can do it individually by finding an assessor who works in the field that you want to be assessed in. For example, assessors in IT need to be subject matter experts in IT before they can assess you.

I don’t have any school certificates, but I have learned to read and write, how can I be assessed? Our government is running a programme called Kha Ri Gude, providing mass literacy and numeracy training. If you approach one of these centres, they will assess the level that you are currently at, and then you can proceed in your literacy training.

What are the levels? The levels are ABET 1- 4, and each level consist of a literacy, communication and numeracy programme. If your employer is not running an ABET programme, then you can go to the department of education, and check Kha Ri Gude.

How do I benefit and what are the advantages for me, of learnerships? Because a learnership provides you with a qualification that is directly related to the work you are doing, you gain a better understanding of the theory behind what you are doing (the why of your occupation), which will improve your personal performance, and give you the opportunity to study further, or be promoted.

How can I find out more about the qualification? You can find all qualifications on the SAQA website.

Have you completed a current learnership? Showcase your learnership and encourage others to build on their skills base by writing in to the careersportal today.

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