Learnerships: A Practical Solution to Combatting Unemployment
Unemployment is a grim reality for more than 56% of working age South Africans today. According to Employment Analyst Gabriela Mackay, only 43.3% of working age South Africans are currently employed. Despite more than twenty years of democracy for the country, black South Africans are still severely disadvantaged with a mere 40.4% absorption rate in the labour market. This rate is used to gauge the health of labour markets in various economies. McKay says that, locally, the labour market absorption rate strongly relies on a person’s level of education.
For instance, the absorption rate for individuals with tertiary education is 75.6% but for matriculants without tertiary education, it is a low 50.3%. Earlier this year, Statistics South Africa revealed that the country’s employment rate is 27.7% for the second quarter in a row. Today more people are unemployed in South Africa than in 1994. How many more, you ask? 5.6 million.
Of the 9.3 million unemployed South Africans, 6 million are under the age of 35 and 8.3 million are black. Moreover, the unemployment rate for black South Africans is 4 to 5 times higher than that of white people in the country.
So, what’s the solution?
An organic approach to reducing unemployment rates is driving skills development. Imbuing working age South Africans with soft and hard skills empowers them to enter the job market with more success, so that they can become active members to the economy (and reap the benefits).
Skills development is now a priority element of the BBBEE scorecard. By implementing Learnership programmes, companies are able to maximize on this element their scorecard. Treasury’s extension of the Learnership tax incentive also enables companies to claim a tax rebate of up to R80,000 per able-bodied learner or R120,000 per disabled learner.
Learnerships are vocational and educational training programmes which link structured learning and work experience thereby enabling learners to gain registered National Qualifications Framework (NQF) qualifications on the job. Learnership training typically combines theory and workplace practice. According to Richard Rayne, CEO of iLearn – a leading South African learning solutions provider, Learnerships produce “capable and efficient” employees.
Rayne explains that empowering and developing employees through NQF-accredited learning programmes is one way of boosting the level of skills in an organisation. Consequently, narrowing the skills gaps in many South African sectors and contributing to economic empowerment.
“It’s a two-pronged process,” Rayne says. “When employers upskill, organisations grow and this will help take our country forward, which is exactly what we need.”
Learn more about iLearn’s Learnership courses today.