How to get a Learner stipend

A Keep Climbing reader sent 4 questions about stipends. Many learners write in complaining about non payment or the amount.

1. What do you need to study to get a stipend?

That’s a killer question requiring quite a few details:

Apprenticeships and Learnerships

These are occupational training programmes that combine work and learning.


  • Although the DHET (Department of Higher Education) is trying to make apprenticeships appealing – they are struggling to do so. This doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities – it means they suck at making the public aware of accessible apprenticeship programmes.
  • This could be good for you and your peers as it means their are opportunities available – you just have to dig around to find them.
  • Read about how to find learnerships and apprenticeships on Keep Climbing as we try to make it easier for stars such as yourself.

Learnerships (What do you do on a Learnerhsip?)

  • Learnerships are pretty trendy because they’re AWESOME…they cover pretty much every industry. You learn and earn, meaning while you’re being trained on a recognised industry qualification, you need to work. That’s the trade-off.
  • A company gains BEE points and tax rebates  for hosting you for the duration of the learnership. Although many companies can apply for funding to pay for the training, most companies pay and then go through a process of claims.
  • The company may or may not employ you when your learnership ends and they are not required to pay you a stipend that is the equivalent of a salary as you are there to learn and gain experience.
  • If they don’t employ you, the certificate you receive will increase your job opportunities. Check out: Do Learnerships and Apprenticeships result in jobs?
  • Employers pay you the stipend directly although some employers claim they are awaiting SETA funds for you – it’s illegal and they should be reported to the SETA and DHET immediately followed with a complaint at the CCMA.
People often write in complaining about how much their stipend is, here’s my hell-no-let-it-go response:
  1. What did they offer at the interview? Did you sign the contract? Then you accepted. Adult up.
  2. No contract? Leave and find something else.
  3. Ok, number 1 is too harsh, you didn’t work out your budget and now you really can’t survive but want to stay. Meet with the HR manager and explain that you messed up. Take along proof of expenses and ask for ADVICE. They will likely say they need time to consider but will try to help you. You however must own your mistake and offer to do whatever it takes. Remember you’ll be walking away with a qualification – how would you have paid for that if it wasn’t for the employer? If you only work Monday – Friday, get a weekend job and be a winner not a whiner.
  4. Did they lie or not do as promised? Report them to the SETA and take the employer to the CCMA. But CCMA employees are often uninformed on how to deal with your issues unless you show them your EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT first, then your learnership contract. Very specifically in that order! 

Always have someone with experience check contracts before you sign.

You want to know How Much?

See the Department of Labour’s industry benchmarks for stipends. There are minimum standards but  a company can pay you as much as they like.

It’s not a good idea to hop from one learnership to the next for a better stipend. You could find yourself barred from the system, however if a situation is bad, it is your right ti leave.

Employers have started to make illegal claims. No employer may ask you to repay money related to the learnership even if you leave or do something they don’t like. If ever an employer threatens to legally force you to pay – understand you could counter sue them for much more than what they want to sue you.

For more info on Rules for Resigning and Registering for Learnerships

2. How long do you need to study before you can get a stipend?

They are issued in the same way as wages (weekly, monthly etc.)
They may not be withheld without prior consultation and you agreeing to the delay.

3. How to apply for one once you’re able to?

Stipends are automatic on learnerships and apprenticeships and valid from when you begin.

4. So all in all what are the criteria points?

You automatically qualify for a stipend on a registered learnership and apprenticeship.

You need to be South African and of an employable age.

Any other questions? 🙂


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Comments (19)

  1. Nomzamo Thulare

    My name is Nomzamo Ayanda Thulare, I started doing my in-service training at Government Complex, department of public works from the April 2019 till this day, I am not getting any stipend. I am really struggling with a transport fare. please help me

  2. Hy I’m zintle I’m doing my inservice training in office administration but there is no stipend .

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