Learnership Programmes for Unemployed

There's nothing more depressing than being unemployed.

Nearly half of South Africa's population are unemployed according to some statistics. Others claim it's much higher than that.

Come back when you have some experience

Nearly every school-leaver or college graduate hears this at least a dozen times when they start applying for jobs. The problem is that employers are looking for people who already have skills and experience. Employing people who don't, and whom they don't know, can end up being a costly exercise and one fraught with disappointment for everyone involved. The problem is that even if you have gone to college, the education you received seldom has practical experience attached to it.

But I've just spent three years at college!

Schooling unfortunately doesn't equate to workplace ability. It reveals what you know not what you can do. This means that employers consider even entry level wages to be too high to risk on the uncertainty of employing an unexperienced person.

What do I do now?

One of the ways to circumvent this and as a way out of unemployment is learnerships. Not only do learnerships give a person training but they also increase their on-the-job skills level as well. This makes them more employable. It's especially useful as the learnership takes place within the potential employer's business. When the owner, or the HR Officer, of a company sees not only the willingness to learn, but a good work ethic and attitude as well as diligent study and application of skill in the work place, they are more likely to hire the learner than someone they don't know. Young unemployed people with some work experience are over three times more likely to find a job than those with none at all.

I've been unemployed for ages, will that be a problem?

It shouldn't, but some learnerships are geared towards the youth. Just make sure you read the learnership requirements carefully. Standard Bank has learnerships that accept people up to the age of 30. The South African government has created a series of learnerships within government itself and are encouraging companies to offer learnerships by offering them incentives to do so. They also have guidelines about who is and isn't eligible for a learnership. You must be at least 16 years old and younger than 35. The Department of Labour has set the following targets for learners entering learnerships: 85% should be Black, 54% should be women and 4% should be people with disabilities. Some companies are taking this to heart. If you're interested in manufacturing or engineering then the Merseta site will be worth a look.

Do I get paid during a learnership?

Yes and no. And it's important to understand the difference. If you are unemployed and are starting a learnership you will receive an allowance from the company hosting the learnership. It's an allowance, it's not wages or a salary. It's calculated as a percentage of the wage a qualified person would earn. There is a minimum amount specified by the government that employers may not fall below.


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