Unemployment is one of the greatest challenges facing South Africa. While the situation may have improved since the fourth quarter of 2017, a staggering 26.7% of people remain unemployed. Of the unemployed, a shocking 38.4% of them are young people between the ages of 15 and 34. While South Africa is being dramatically affected by this problem, it is part of a disturbing global trend. This problem has been recognised in international politics, being discussed at The UN World Economic Situation and Prospects Monthly Briefing for February 2018:
Global concerns regarding the high levels of youth unemployment are longstanding. High youth unemployment is not just a loss to the individuals involved but also bears a broader social cost. Studies show that an episode of unemployment when young, or transitioning to work during a recession, has large and persistent effects on lifetime potential wages, raises the probability of being unemployed in later years, and puts youth at risk of long-term social exclusion.
A corporate solution for transformation — Learnerships
Corporates can do their part to provide sustainable solutions for society that eliminate the barriers to employment affecting thousands of South Africans. And it is possible to fulfil this social obligation while also adding value to the business. One option is to initiate education-focused CSR programmes and the second is to implement in-house Learnerships. CSR programmes — such as the YES initiative — create their social impact by focusing on skills-development in youth with no previous work experience or contact with the company. In-house Learnerships, on the other hand, are focused on growing the capacity of those already on the payroll.
There are two different types of Learnerships: traditional, instructor-led and Blended Learnerships. A Learnership training course is a minimum of 12 months and must be officially accredited. The learner receives a formal qualification once they’ve completed the programme which attests to their newly-developed skills-set. A Blended Learnership allows an employee to develop their skills through a programme that involves classroom learning, as well as digital learning materials.
Externally-focussed CSR programmes can be successfully used to spot talent early, and to feed otherwise disenfranchised youth into your company as trained members who grow into the perfect fit. Their skills can be further developed to suit their — and the company’s — needs. A third-party consultant like iLearn, who spearheads YES, 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, inter-related CSR and Learnership skills-development programme — grooming the next wave of perfectly suited employees while providing a way out of the poverty-cycle most of the affected youth would have assumed as their future.
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 you 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. In the South African context, Learnerships that meet these (and other) relevant criteria will also improve a company’s B-BBEE compliance.
Blended Learning Learnerships are the natural choice for discerning companies, because they offer the benefits of instructor-led learning, with the flexibility of digital learning and a self-paced curriculum. This allows you and your staff the benefits of flexibility – to reap the rewards of skills-development without losing income.
Companies can further simplify the Learnership process by partnering with a provider that offers Blended Learnerships – iLearn, with over 17 years of experience in skills development in South Africa, is one such provider. iLearn offers both the FETC: IT Technical Support (NQF 4) and the NC: IT End User Computing (NQF 3) Blended Learnership programmes that are internationally certified, in addition to a number of traditional Learnership programmes. If you’d like to find out more about the Blended Learnership qualifications, or any of the other programmes on offer, book a free consultation with one of iLearn’s experts today.