What are the differences between Learnerships and Internships?

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Learnerships and internships both provide you with work experience, and both can be the start of a long and successful career. But there are big differences between the two.

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Learnerships and internships can often get confused as both provide you with work experience. Here's the difference between a learnership and an internship.

Both a learnership and an internship can be the start of a long and successful career. But there are big differences between the two.

Internships have been around for a very long time and the details vary greatly between companies. There are no strict rules on how long the intership should last, or what the person will do while on the internship.

An internship is just work experience and most often you get paid. After the internship, you either move on to your next internship or you get a full-time job.

Learnerships vs internships

A Learnership is a much more recent idea, which was started when the government introduced the national skills development legislation. A learnership is defined in the Skills Development Act so it has strict criteria.

Learnerships help you get qualified, paid and gain work experience all in one. These are designed to help you get a qualification. Companies like Eskom, Transnet and SAB offer Learnerships and internships.

A learnership must include a formal training component as well as the workplace experience part. If you successfully complete the learnership you will get a formal, nationally-recognised qualification.

The other great benefit of a learnership is that by law you must be paid a learner's allowance. The exact amount depends on the level of the learnership but you can find out from the Department of Labour.

Jaryd Raizon from the Knowledge Trust said:

A learnership is a much more effective way of helping organisations upskill talent and invest in the development of young talent whilst improving their BEE score card and whilst growing our economy.

The important thing, whether you do a learnership or an internship is that you check all the details to ensure that you are getting a good deal. If the company won't give you all the details about what you are being paid and what you will do on the job, be very suspicious.   


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Emerging technologies must be integrated into Learnerships to equip our youth for 4IR. Rajan Naidoo, the Managing Director of EduPower Skills Academy, emphasises the urgency for tech-driven skills in all qualifications to ensure economic competitiveness and inclusivity, urging educators and businesses to collaborate to ensure learnership curricula is agile and able to adapt swiftly to rapidly evolving 4IR demands.

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