Learnerships as a tool for empowering economic transformation
Unemployment is one of the greatest challenges facing South Africa. While the situation may have improved by 0.4 percentage points in the third quarter of 2018, a staggering 27.1% of people remain unemployed. Of the unemployed, a shocking 31.1% of them are young people between the ages of 15 and 24.
On a global scale, South Africa is not faring well. According to Haver Analytics (as cited by The Economist), South Africa has the highest unemployment rate amongst the BRICS nations, more than double that of Brazil (11.6%) and considerably higher than that of India (7.1%), Russia (4.8%) and China (3.8%).
Nobel laureate Paul Romer, during his visit to Cape Town in April this year for the fourth annual meeting of New Development Bank (NDB), described South Africa as an "economic disappointment", citing the high levels of unemployment among the country's youth, calling it a "human catastrophe". "It's a very hard story because there was this political miracle in this country which was then followed by economic disappointment and the thing, I would point to is not so much the outsiders, but the under-utilisation of human talent in South Africa," Romer said. Romer told delegates South Africa should not wait for educational reform but should rather get more people into jobs.
Professor Vimal Ranchhod, an economist at UCT points out, “Long-term unemployment leads to unfulfilled human potential over a lifetime and can affect people’s sense of self-worth and cause depression. Poverty rates are higher, and this affects individuals, their families and their communities.”
A solution for economic transformation — Learnerships
Businesses, big and small, need to play their part in providing sustainable solutions to eliminate the barriers to employment. And it is possible to fulfil this social obligation while also adding value to the business. One option is to implement Learnerships for the unemployed, either hosted inhouse or by another company. Learnerships are focused on providing the unemployed learner with both on-the-job training and an accredited NQF qualification at the end of the 12-month learning programme.
Learnerships are a great way for companies to train passionate people with potential who may also lack certain skills due to systemic social inequalities. This contributes to social development by decreasing the skills gap that exists for many previously disadvantaged employees and allows companies to hire for potential, not experience. This is particularly vital to bringing more young people into the economy and driving company growth with a loyal staff.
Consulting with a learning solutions consultant, who spearheads Learnership programmes, would be the natural choice for any company choosing to be a responsible part of the solution to unemployment, while avoiding the expense of an unnecessarily increased workload. With a strategic partnership, you can reap the benefits of a successfully run Learnership programme. In the South African context, Learnerships that meet these (and other) relevant criteria will also enable a company to benefit from improved B-BBEE compliance and significant tax rebates.