Learnerships vs Apprenticeships

Front Page Looking For… SMME Micro, Small and Medium enterprises Learnerships vs Apprenticeships

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    I have had extensive discussions with private training providers and their stats show conclusively that in the construction industry, Apprenticeships are favoured far above Learnerships.


    I have the reasons for this state of affairs but I would like members to comment as to the reasons for this situation


    Selwyn Schrieff

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    My experience with 5-year apprenticeships in the Engineering and Electronics fields in the late 1960’s was that they were generally held in high regard by both employers and employees because of their well integrated structure, substance, and assessment processes. I believe the same applied in most other industries. One has the impression that Learnerships in general are a markedly superficial version with quantity far outstripping quality.

    One understands that, amongst others, there were political and social imperatives driving the introduction of Learnerships but I have never understood the need to have effectively abandoned the apprenticeship system even though the numbers were declining by the early 1990’s. Another case of them being viewed as an apartheid construct and chucking the baby out with the bath water perhaps?


    Hi Brian, a very properous 2011 to you and yours.


    It is ironical, that from the information at my disposal, both Employers and Employees prefer the Apprenticeship route. The learnership method is too long winded and as stated, the maths requirements far exceed the need – Construction Industry – Artisan level and to boot the learner still has to complete 18 months practical after a four year theoretical stint.






    Hi Selwyn, thanks and the same to you.
    I am certainly not an authority on this but if my memory serves me, there were apprenticeships of different duration in the Construction Industry but the basic structure was the same. Typically block tech for three months each year (usually doing 4 subjects) and the rest on-the-job training and experience. At the end one had to have completed a certain number of N-Level exams and went to a designated center for a trade test. Quality used to vary somewhat on a practical level because obviously not all employers were the same and neither were the artisans to whom the Appies were attached. Of course, the other limitation was that until well into the 1980’s, most Appies were white. Probably part of the National Party’s job reservation programme. Notwithstanding, the system generally worked well in terms of skills transfer and capacity building. One hopes that the positive elements can be restored as a matter of urgency. Regards, Brian


    Hi Brian


    I also am not too knowledgeable on the subject, but I do believe the apprenticeship program has more than one model – something about a person who has more than (I think) five years practical experience – almost like the old major apprenticeship


    I too hope that the SETA’s wake up and stop wasting both time and money and start offering meaningful training solutions. I also noticed that Blade Ndzimane took them to task recently





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