How Learnerships Can Help Tackle South Africa's High Unemployment Rate

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South Africa's unemployment rate is at a record high, with majority of unemployed people being part of the youth. Learnerships could very well be one of the solutions to this major problem.

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High rates of unemployment is one problem that plagues South Africa deeply, especially amongst the youth. Even with a matric certificate and tertiary qualification, there is no guarantee that graduates will be able to secure employment. 

South Africa's government has implemented a number of initiatives and programmes to alleviate some of the unemployment rate and offer support to job seekers, millions of which make up the unemployment rate.

Although the unemployment rate has slightly decreased in recent times, there is still much work to be done. One way for job seekers to better their chances of securing employment is through participating in learnerships.

A learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) registered qualification. They are also directly related to an occupation or field of work.

Not only do learnerships address unemployment, but the country's skills shortage too, something which 87% of executives are experiencing or expecting within a few years, based on the findings of HyperionDev's 2021 Tech Graduate Futures Report. 

careers Portal spoke to Rajan Naidoo, Managing Director of EduPower Skills Academy, who says that when the Skills Development Act was introduced and implemented, he recognized the opportunity to use it to address the skills deficit within the South African economy. 

We've had a history of Higher academic institutions that offer degrees, diplomas, those types of [qualifications] at universities of technology, but on the vocational and artisanal side, the SETAs and more recently QCTOs, fills that huge [skills] gap.

"Learnerships are very important because they offer a couple of things. Firstly, theory which is 30%; 70% which is work experience, unlike [at] universities, it's almost all theory and then when you graduate, companies don't want to hire you because you haven't had work experience."

Learnerships also operate on a earn-while-you-work basis, meaning participants have some money coming in while they undergo learning opportunities for the duration of the learnership period.

Alongside a stipend, students also receive a formal qualification with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which is extremely important; an income and a formal qualification make learnerships a very powerful instrument, says Naidoo, especially for graduates to gain some work experience.

Learnerships also lead to employers and training providers creating work opportunities, specifically for learnership graduates, adds Naidoo. 

Naidoo is of the view that within the Basic Education sector, vocational streams should be offered from Grade 10 onwards, so that by the time a learner gets to Grade 12, a large component can already be employable. 

It's something that the Department of Basic Education should take seriously, because too many [young] people are going through the academic stream and ending up in Grade 12; some go on to universities which are important, some go to universities of technology, but these are academic streams.

"There's a large percentage that's left without anything and that's where vocational streams come in."

EduPower Skills Academy offers accredited learnerships, skills development courses and training that truly sets up its learners for success, as well as dedicated to helping learners set up and grow their own businesses.

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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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