As we approach Youth Day, our attention naturally turns to the young people in our organisations and the initiatives in place to further their education and development. One of the key instruments for skills development is the learnership. As you probably know, a learnership  is a work-based education and training programme linked to a qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). Learnerships are directly related to an occupation or discipline, for example web development, environmental engineering or customer service. Learnerships are managed and implemented by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

Learnerships include theoretical learning provided by an education and training provider as well as hands-on experience with an employer. Both components must be successfully completed in order for the learner to achieve the qualification. Learners must be between the ages of 16 and 35 and have completed matric, college or an accredited programme at another training institution. Learners are not employees but receive an allowance, which should be sufficient to cover travel expenses and meals. The specified minimum amount varies depending on the type of learnership and level of qualification and is set by the SETA, not the employer.


A learnership is not the same as an internship, which is a work-related learning experience and a chance to gain professional experience in a particular occupation. In general, interns already possess a degree or qualification and the internship carries with it a level of responsibility that a learnership does not. An internship allows a young worker to develop new skills in the field through training and supervision. It may or may not be salaried, but if it is, the salary will be paid by the employer rather than by an external provider.

Benefits to learners

Many young people would like to further their education beyond the level of matric but cannot afford the fees for higher and tertiary education or the loss of income that full-time education can mean. Bursaries are available but there are not enough to go around. Furthermore, an academic course is not suitable for everyone. Many learners prefer to be on a learning programme that is directly and practically related to the field of work or career they are interested in.

Learnerships provide structured learning and lead to a nationally recognised qualification that learners can take with them from one company to another. In addition to the practical and professional benefits, young people who successfully complete learnerships and achieve qualifications gain life skills and improved self-esteem, which in turn will make them productive employees and further their career progression.

Benefits to employers

Few would dispute the fact that learnerships are valuable tools for young people in their career development. But did you know that employers benefit too? Let’s look at some of the advantages your organisation can enjoy when you host learnerships:

  • Learnerships carry tax incentives and grants that make them financially attractive. In fact, the tax benefits and job creation / skills development incentives make them practically cost-free. SETAS offer cash grants for learnerships and the government offers tax incentives to companies participating in learnerships.
  • You can earn additional B-BBEE points for providing learnership training.
  • Learnerships are directly related to existing and identified skills needs in an economic sector, so the chances are you will be upskilling a learner to fill a gap you already have.

Young people who complete learnerships tend to be:

  • Able to work more independently, in need of less supervision and in possession of enhanced problem-solving capabilities.
  • Motivated to add value to the business.
  • Less likely to leave an organisation that has invested in their personal and professional development, if you go on to offer the learner a permanent position.

It’s important to note that by hosting learnerships, whether or not you are able to extend a permanent offer to each learner, you are contributing to building up the skills pool for your industry and improving our competitiveness and productivity as a nation. An enhanced skills base will benefit you eventually, when you need to recruit new talent.

Get involved!

EOH is firmly committed to advancing the youth of our nation. Since 2012 we have sponsored the EOH Youth Job Creation Initiative, designed to stimulate job creation through interaction with our customers, business partners and Government.

To date, more than 1 800 EOH interns and learners have taken part in the programme and we have permanently employed more than 70% of participants. We are also proud to report that more than 8 000 jobs have been created nationwide through partnerships we have forged and programmes we have implemented.

We also believe that in order to create opportunities for youth, we need to bring back jobs that have been outsourced to other countries (‘offshored’). We are currently working with our customers and technology partners to bring these jobs home to South Africa and train our youth. We have a target of 10 000 offshored jobs repatriated by 2018 and a further 50 000 jobs created by 2020.

Our commitment does not stop there. We invite businesses across South Africa to join us in tackling youth unemployment. Earlier this year, in partnership with Radio 702, we launched the EOH 702 Youth Job Creation Challenge to a national audience, with the aim of creating 100 000 jobs for unemployed youth by 2020. We will support participating organisations by providing information and tips on best practice, based on our years of experience in youth job creation. We will also conduct outreach workshops with small businesses and partner networks interested in participating in the initiative.

Find out more!

For more information on the EOH Youth Job Creation Initiative or EOH 702 Youth Job Creation Challenge and to find out how you can get involved, contact:

Cindy Parvess
EOH Human Capital Marketing and PR Manager

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