Making the most of Learnerships
In the view of Richard Rayne, CEO of iLearn, companies that are obliged by law to contribute to the country’s Skills Development Fund by paying the mandatory Skills Development Levy will find a number of important benefits if they include learnerships in their annual Workplace Skills Plan.
A learnership is a work-based learning programme directly related to an occupation or field of work that leads to an accredited NQF qualification, and are managed by the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). Businesses looking to undertake skills development – either for their own talent pipeline or to contribute towards education in South Africa – can enter into learnership agreements with their current employers or with unemployed candidates.
Considering how skills development has become such an important aspect of the B-BBEE scorecard, companies can use learnerships effectively, not just for talent development and management, but also to boost their B-BBEE levels,’ Rayne points out.
Skills development is now a priority element of the B-BBEE scorecard, providing companies with opportunities to earn 20 vital points. A business that fails to achieve a 40% minimum threshold of those skills development points is penalised on its rating. Rayne explains: ‘You can claim eight points if you invest 6% (previously 3%) of your payroll on training black people. If you engage 2.5% of your employees in learnerships and internships you can earn four points; and another four points if 2.5% of your workforce is made up of black unemployed learners. An additional five points can be claimed if you employ those unemployed learners at the end of their learnerships programme.
It’s important to invest wisely in relevant and quality learnerships that result in the development of specific skills to the level that would be an advantage to your company.’ ‘We are excited about the way that learnerships help to build an effective workforce and connect learning to actual career paths. With talent management and B-BBEE levels so crucial to business, through learnerships you have a fantastic opportunity to groom unemployed people for potential recruitment within your organisation.’
Investing in learnerships also provides opportunities to capitalise on various reimbursements, grants and tax rebates. For instance, employers who pay the Skills Development Levy to SARS, who are registered with their SETA, and submit their Workplace Skills Plan and Annual Training Report each year, qualify for further reimbursements on their SDL spend, which can be used towards the cost of the training.
These benefits aside, the core purpose of learnerships is to ensure that the business is empowered by a relevant skills base over the long term. ‘The distinctive advantage of learnerships is that they are work-based and delivered onsite in a company’s environment. Therefore, they can be specifically and strategically designed and embedded within the context of your organisation’s talent development objectives and goals,’ Rayne concludes.
Learnerships are typically implemented over a 12-month period with the learners attending an average of three days’ training each month in addition to completing their assessments.