What Learners say about Learnership Stipends

Are Learnership Stipends Fair? Trapped Between Business and Black Tax. Learner complaints show how SETAs fail to support and monitor accredited organisations and employers, thereby allowing for a range of irregularities and questionable practices.

Is Business Heroic?

Companies are rewarded for providing learnerships. They receive generous BEE points and tax rebates, often raking back millions.

What is the amount of the allowance for companies?

Companies can claim a total of R60 000 per completed learnership, and R100 000 for each disabled candidate. Companies ALSO claim back all payments made to learners. This means firms have nothing to lose but everything to gain if they pay learners a stipend that helps alleviate poverty conditions.

So why don’t they? Do firms secure their wealth by creating a poor working class who earn too little to change and improve their economic status?

Youth who can’t afford traditional qualifications can choose occupational qualifications such as learnerships. Do we punish them by exploiting their limited choices?

On a learnership, you can only qualify if your portfolio is signed off by an employer and if you have completed the workplace experience requirements.

This means youth must provide their labour at whatever price the company is willing to pay if they wish to achieve a qualification.

Question: Would it be better if funded learnerships for the unemployed were implemented by TVET Colleges and if only learnerships for the employed were implemented by firms? This would remove the problem of youth being exploited in a labour market that offers them very little protections.

Employers believe that since they are providing the study and work opportunity – learners should not expect more.  Is this fair given that the business isn’t sacrificing much and in fact, gains plenty by providing the opportunity?  If learners can’t cope on R1500, does it mean they are too poor to participate?

Legislation provides minimum stipend benchmarks, but few organisations have policies against exploiting low wages and instead, opt to only pay minimums. 

Complaints about learnership stipend issues were posted on Keep Climbing. Names have been removed to protect the identity of learners, some of whom are still in the situation. 

*Disclaimer: Comments have not been investigated and while some efforts have been made to assist, not everyone received the support required.  Comments must be substantiated as fact, but should not be dismissed without investigation by the relevant authorities.

The names of organisations remain in the comments.  If the relevant SETA contacts me with evidence to dispute the comments, then I will add the evidence they provide to this post.

Learners posting comments should understand that issues of non-payment should be taken to the DHET, the Department of Labour, the relevant Union, the relevant SETA and finally the CCMA.

Lodge complaints at each of the departments listed, they are all inefficient and you cannot be sure who will actually step up for you.  The CCMA is listed last as it’s the least effective in these matters. When you go to them, you must say you’re an employee and that your SALARY hasn’t been paid, they don’t understand learnerships and stipends.

About Non Payment

Hi, I’m doing a Learnership NQF L2 for New Venture Creation at Climamark.
I am surprised because every time they have to pay us they come up with stories that SSETA did not pay them. They told us that we get stipend on the 15 the or 30th of every month so I’m surprised this month we did not get any stipend. Today they told us that we will get it next month and they will loan us R300 and that they will deduct it from the stipend.
We did not get paid for 2 months now and we travel to school and some even pay accommodation.
Please help.
And where we attend there is no water, no tables to write, we don’t have stationery.
Hi Leonie and thanks for being helpful.
I was in the learnership with ServicesSETA since 2015 November ended last year 2016 November. In partnership with Department of Social Development and Dambuza Youth Centre in Pietermaritzbug.
So there are stipends that are due to some of the students and most of the students got all their money and some of us didn’t get it all. We were supposed to get it all but it seems like ServicesSETA and DSD their are pointing at one another.
Are we gonna be able to get our money if I may ask? 4 months we haven’t been paid which makes like R6000 rand!
We are in a learnership for professional driving. Our problem is we have had about two months  of not getting stipends and they stopped us coming.
We don’t have any information on whats going on.
As the learners we have a right to education as the learnerships are for youth that have no access to further their education. So what must we do?
Just leave them or what?
Hi! We as a student we have a problem when it come to our stipend. We don’t get it on time some time we don’t even get it. Like now we have never received a money for 3 months we always getting stories so can we get help?
Hi! we have a problem at Brits. There’s a project that started in August at Letlhabile. We’ve been attending and not yet received a cent from them, we didn’t even understand what is really happening there.
We would appreciate your help. IEB is involved there and Hernic mine is also part of it.

Fake Learnerships?

Hi, I’m in a road and transport management learnership where we had no induction no mentors and our log books are not signed. The duties we do are not related to the learnership.
When ever we try to talk about this issues we are told to go and work as they are paying us to work.
The agent who recruited us also admits that they have no clue what a learnership is but refused to come and talk to them.
Where can we seek help?
Hello! early this year (2017) I signed a contract with SETA @kuyasa development organisation in ladysmith. We signed a register every month but we never get paid.
They keep on promising us empty promises.  What worries me most is that 25% of other interns got their monies except us. When we call a guy from finance he keep on telling us that we will receive payment after 24hours but it been months now, there is nothing in our bank. Please help us we are struggling.
Dec 28, 2016 11:33pm

I am on a learnership, WOL (War on Leaks) with Rand Water I haven’t being paid for six months laid complaints to them but still nothing. What should I do or where do I go or who to call…Help

Can’t Cope on R1500

Many of our youth pay #BlackTax – support to their families. Youth are maintaining struggling households because their communities perceive them as wealthy.

Yet many learners barely earn enough to keep themselves alive. This makes our youth vulnerable to all sorts of struggles and power based relationships, such as the ‘sugar babes’ and ‘ben 10s’  in order to find a way to help their families and maintain their own dignity.

Apr 9, 2017 

We like to pass our appreciation about the relevant information.

Pity some of the young people are still being exploited by the companies because of the current situation they are faced with.There are young people in Durban at ISIPHNGO area who are renting Rooms, have to buy food and to pay for transport on top of that. Yet they are to receive R1500 a month only as their stipend.

Why are our young so exploited after they studied years to become electricians for our better country?


I am also an artisan at public hospital and I also feel exploited by our government about less wages for artisans and I also think to resign and resort myself to private company. When will our government will realise they need us?

Hello! I’m currently in an apprenticeship from department. I finished with 6 month institutional training, now I’m doing my practicals. What I want to know is, is it fair for me to still get R1500 which I started on?  I am on phase 4 now.
How much an apprentice supposed to get?

Stipend Deductions

Hi I forgot to mention that sometimes we don’t get a full stipend and if ever you are absent they deduct the stipend. Does it happen that a stipend is being deducted as it is not a salary?

My academy is Artisan Development Academy in Berea Road Durban. And if you need PPE”S they give us cheap Chinese material. I am very worried about this academy because they make our lives miserable. Please help!

We recently got a learnership in Robertville, a gumboot making company.
Our issue here is that our stipend is being deducted for: provident fund, uif, agency fee(which we don’t know about) council levy and NBC sick fund.
We were not told of the deductions before we commenced,
The deductions amounted to 33% of the gross wage since they paid us for one day, and on our payslips for job title instead of it stating learner it stated general worker. When we asked, they said it’s the 1st time the company ran a learnership and they have to update the system.So what must we do mam please help.

Hi Leonie Hall
For a full week we worked. We are promised R600 weekly stipend.
And for that week we worked only one day which supposed to have amounted to R120 but after deductions it was R70.


We have problem at Royal Bafokeng institute with our stipend.
It was supposed to be R1000.00 but they give us R655.00. We need to know what is the exact amount we supposed to get?
We did not sign any contract. We get paid late.
Our problem is that we don’t know whether the stipend we get is R1000.00 or R1500.00

Poor Learnership Support

Hi, I am from Newcastle. The reason why I write to you is that I need advice because I have been accepted to do my apprenticeship in Dormac company so, they told me they wont offer me accommodation so, I need an advice on that case about what I should do as I am not resident of Durban so, should as company give me money for accommodation in my stipend as they wont give me one? so would you please help me on what I should do on this case please.


 19th April 2017
Hi! I am doing a diesel mechanic apprenticeship with MERSETA. My problem is that they have placed me at Toyota and I’m working with small vehicle’s whilst I were supposed to be working with trucks or mining equipments, this thing is eating me from the inside bcoz I’m going to have experience on small vehicle and my qualification is for the big vehicles or earth moving equipment…..pls help.

Stipend Story from Gugu – Posted on LinkedIn

Hi Leonie

Thank you so so much for this platform you have opened for us all.

I’m a learner myself at Progression Options doing AAT: Accounting Technician I’ve never had a permanent job in my life “as yet :)”

I was on an Financial Management internship before.

FACT is our stipends are for transport and for us to look presentable at work, that’s what it’s meant for and we as learners sign up for that. Reality is most of our families / communities do not have those facts about our stipends. They “believe” that we (learners) as their children have made it in life, we done with school and we are now “working” so we need to help out financially no questions asked #BlackTax. What’s keeping me going with my stipend is self discipline.

“It’s not how much I have BUT how I use what I have”

FACT = Our stipends are not enough BUT with the little that I have, I make sure to appreciate and make the best out of it. I have a monthly budget that helps me see what I can afford to do and what I can’t afford too. With this I’ve never struggled to come to work and that’s all that matters right??? At the end of it all I know my CV will be FAT enough for all employers out there.

BUT It really would assist us if employers look into increasing our stipends, until then I guess we need to keep up with what we have.

Personal motivation = “I will suffer for a while but in no time it will all come to an end, then I can start earning what I rightfully deserve.”

That’s my take on the matter!!!!

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Comments (13)

  1. Hi Leoni

    It is true that a learnership stipend is not a salary and therefore cannot be adjusted when one is absent. Should a learner receive a full stipend every month even though s/he does not attend for the full month?

    Your clarification would help a lot.


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