If you are considering Learnerships as a key element of your Human Capital strategy, then it is important to get it right. Learnerships can be very beneficial to an organizations reputation but it is quite difficult to get right. Firstly you need to make sure you understand the structure within the Government and the policy frameworks and regulations (including legislation) and the funding and disbursement mechanisms that have been put in place. Once you have worked your way through the various obstacles then you need to ensure that from an internal perspective your organization is well equipped to support a Learnership programme.
Why embark on Learnership Programmes?
Apart from the obvious fact that a well designed and implemented learnership can provide the bridge between theoretical education and skilled, experienced resources it also creates a close cooperative relationship between education and training providers and employers. Individuals on the programme are given the opportunity to gain practical expertise and the flexibility to move across occupational contexts to acquire an optimal range of working experience.
Managing a Learnership Programme
It is important to note that a credit based qualification system requires administrative support in order to record the learners skills level in various competencies. The management of this learning is also a necessity. Therefore there are three different areas of management of learnerships that can be readily identified:
- The management of providers and learners
- The management of learnerships and the development of quality in provision
- The management of the learnership system – meeting the objectives of the Skills Development Act (No 97 of 1998)
Like any contractual agreement of employment; learners on a learnership programme are managed through a legally binding agreement that provides clear guidelines to the responsibilities and rights of each party in the relationship. This should be used as the tool that ensures the quality of the learnerships and serves as the mechanism to assure proper labour relations are adhered to.
Skills Development Act (No 97 of 1988)
This Act requires the contracted learnership agreement to be registered with the relevant SETA. The SETA serves as a uniform framework that governs the nature of the agreement. It is imperative that the following issues are addressed by this agreement:
- Rights and obligations of the learnership parties (learner; employer; registered training provider and the SETA)
- Entry requirements (this is with respect to age; education; physical and mental requirements)
- The registration office at which (and the period within which) learnerships must be registered at the relevant SETA
- The period and terms of termination of the agreement as well as variations to the agreement must also be clearly stipulated
- Provisions must be made for school going learners who want to enter the learnership system
- And parents of learners younger than 15 years are required to sign the agreement on behalf of their children
Once registered with the relavant SETA all learnership agreements will be binding. As a result the SETA must provide a record of learnership with the Department of Labour. Noting the following information:
- the number of applications received per occupational area in one calendar year
- the number of learnerships offered in each occupational area in one calendar year
- the levels at which these are offered
- the categories of learnerships offered and their totals (formal/SMME)
- the number of male and female learners per occupational area
- the average duration (in months) of each learnership per occupational area
- the completion rate by gender per calendar year in each occupational area
- the cost per learnership for each occupational area
- A pro-forma learnership agreement per occupational area must also accompany the record of learnerships.
The Skills Development Act (No 97 of 1998 section 18 (2) stipulates that the employer and the learner must enter into a formal contract of employment. This is a way in which the terms and conditions under which the training and education process can be stipulated. It is there to protect the rights of both the learner and the employer.
The Department of Labour have the responsibility of developing and managing the learnership system. This focuses on the citeria for registering learnerships and evaluating the implementation on an ongoing; period basis. They are also there to manage the funding system.
A second part of the management of providers will be met through the quality assurance functions that the SETA will use to monitor providers. These will ensure that the providers continuously improve their provision and that a quality system is developed.
(information was taken from SERVICES SETA website)