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Information about education, pay and careers to set you free.

What is a Learnership?

Learnerships are occupationally directed training programs that result in a full SAQA registered qualification.

Once learners have signed contracts, their learnerships are registered with SARS so the employer can claim rebates, reimbursements of stipends issued and BEE Points.

Learners are also termed ’employees’ and protected by labour legislation. Learners can register complaints with the CCMA or nearest Department of Labour branch and the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Learn and Earn (low)

What does ‘occupationally directed’ mean?

It means the qualification strengthens and develops your ability to meet a particular job expectation in one or a range of industries.

The skills that you learn are specifically related to the workplace, empowering your career development and future job seeking opportunities.

A Learnership has two key features: 

  1. Class based formal training (towards a registered SAQA qualification)
  2. On the job learning and practice

Will I be Paid?

Yes. You will be paid a stipend. Some companies pay as low as R 1 500 and others as much as R 10k per month. Most of the time stipends are very low and difficult to live on if you have no family or community support (or trust fund).

Industry Relevance

Learnerships provide brilliant opportunities for candidates to improve their job prospects and career development.

But you must be prepared for hard work as you’re required to complete a full workload meeting all on-the-job expectations and study passionately to complete the qualification. It can become challenging if you’re not used to studying. Many people fail miserably because they thought it would be easy and would require little effort from them.

Worth The Work

You should expect to work on your studies after hours and weekends. You will be required to develop a Portfolio of Evidence (POE) to prove that you have mastered skills and knowledge.  A POE must be created at the beginning and added to throughout the programme.

If you’re not committed to the career path that the Learnership places you on, you will struggle with the demands. But if you’re someone who is willing to apply effort and passion – this is the perfect way for you to get connected professionally.

How the Action Starts

SETA’s require that a Learnership program begins with an Induction.

Induction is where the SAQA qualification is described and explained to candidates in detail. You will understand what the legal requirements are for your program and how the content is structured to support it.

Ensure you understand the implications of the NQF Level that the qualification is registered on.

If you have Matric and are on an NQF level 3 or 4 learnership, you may be entitled to credits. If you can be credited, then you will be able to spend more time on your other modules.

During the Induction you are informed how the program will be delivered, for example, if it is going to be delivered in individual unit standards or integrated programs. If it’s delivered as individual unit standards your workload will be high.

If the program is integrated it means that unit standards have been grouped according to exit level outcomes and that overlapping content is taught simultaneously (in one go).

When content is integrated, it removes most of the repetition and allows you to cover many unit standard outcomes at once.

A unit standard is like a brick in a wall. It is a component of something bigger.
A unit standard is like a brick in a wall. It is a component of something bigger.

Qualifications are made up of modules called unit standards. Imagine a brick wall.

If bricks build a wall, then unit standards build a qualification.

At the Induction, you must receive a list of all the unit standards that you will be required to complete during your learnership.

On an integrated program, these unit standard groups are called learning programs.

How is A Learning Program or Unit Standard Structured?

Each learning program or unit standard has theoretical and practical expectations.

The theoretical component is managed by an accredited training organisation and is usually only around 30 – 40% of the qualification training time.

The balance, the other 70-60% of the Learnership is based on what you accomplish in the workplace.

Learnership Log Sheets

During your Induction, you will be advised on how you have to maintain records of your work experience on the Learnership Log Sheet.

Your Log Sheet must be signed off and verified by your direct line manager or supervisor. These Log Sheets are submitted to the training provider at the end of each month and are used to assist in determining whether you will be found Competent or Not Yet Competent.

The reason why Candidates are often unsuccessful on Learnerships can be attributed to companies lack of understanding and monitoring of these log sheets and learner’s failure to maintain these records.

Buy chocolates, beers or wash their car – make sure your supervisor signs off on each module as it’s completed or you could be in serious trouble at the end. Few managers enjoy the extra administration a learnership imposes on them, so manage this process carefully, like a professional.

Training Time

Learnership class based sessions or contact times with the training provider usually occurs on a  monthly basis. Learners sign a contract with an employer and a training provider who is accredited for the qualification you have been placed on.

The Department of Higher Education and Training advises learners to obtain a copy of this accreditation certificate and to check the credentials. There are many tsotsis who exploit the youth and make false promises about qualifications. Get the paper work ok!

Sometimes training is completed in 12 months, other times it extends to 18 months. The time allocated to contact sessions vary from one workplace to the next. Qualifications are designed to be delivered over 12 months, if learners struggle it’s often extended.

I would want to know why a qualification is being delivered over 18 months if that’s on the contract. Many firms exploit youth and could try to extend contracts and obstruct training so they can have cheap labour for longer. 

Companies commit anything from one day to 10 days per month. The less contact time you have with the facilitators and assessors – the more challenging the program will be. If you have work experience you won’t struggle as much as those who are inexperienced.  This is because you can apply your experience to the training whereas those with no experience have much more to learn from scratch.

Formative and Summative Assessment

Most training providers require that you submit a completed Workbook providing evidence of independent or group learning activities for each module.

These activities are referred to as Formative Assessment activities. They monitor and  illustrate what you did in order to process the content and prepare for  Summative Activities.

‘Processing the content’ refers to how you made mistakes and corrected yourself,  how you started to understand the information and then explained it in your own words and terminology.

Formative activities provide information about your progress, your strengths and weaknesses. The Summative activities test your ability to apply the skills, knowledge and values.

Your Formative and Summative activities create your Portfolio of Evidence (PoE).

Your PoE is usually at least two lever arch files containing Formative, Summative and workplace evidence.

The training provider guides you through the Formative and Summative activities. Your workplace mentors and coaches assist you with the workplace evidence.  Workplace evidence should show how you started off with simple tasks and activities and then grew to applying the knowledge and skills in a way that shows your initiative.

Your training provider assesses your PoE on a monthly basis and provides you and your employer with feedback regarding your progress. This can be embarrassing if you have been unfocused and poorly organised.

The training provider is required to be honest with the employer about your abilities and commitment and will report you for misconduct or poor delivery. If you come across as unprofessional, your contract could be terminated if you were taken on as an unemployed candidate.

It doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make, you will always have a champion on your side if you’re someone who makes a sincere effort. People who are consistent stand a better chance of being hired by the company once their Learnership is complete.


Anything you are unclear about? Please post in the comments section below.

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