Learnerships and Skills programmes - Are They Different?

By alanhammond, 4 January, 2024
business desk

We hear a lot about Learnerships but no so much about skills programmes. Are they the same thing - or is there a difference? 

They are similar, and it could be said that any training that leads to formal NQF recognition is a skills programme, there are formal definitions. 

Skills Programme

A skills programme is a unit standard or combination of unit standards that leads to an employable skill, and earns a credit on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) towards a qualification.

Skills programmes are compiled by employers or providers once a need for a particular skill has been identified.

These programmes are registered with the Seta, and must be certificated through the NQF-based accreditation route.

Before registering a skills programme, the Seta will assess whether:

  • there is a need for the proposed skill in the labour market
  • there is evidence of the learnership (or qualification) to which the skills programme will ultimately contribute
  • the combination of unit standards are recognised in the context of an area of learning that eventually
  • a career path or sufficient employment opportunities exist for the learner
  • links exist with general education requirements as well as formal qualifications


A Learnership is a workplace-based route to a nationally recognised qualification. The Learnership must be registered with a Seta and delivered according to a pre-determined curriculum. 

The Learnership has to have a minimum of 120 credits on the NQF and should last at least 10 months, and more usually 12 months. This fits with the 1,200 hours of notional learning.

The learner on the Learnership will sign an employment contract with the host employer and also a learning agreement with the training provider. On successful completion of the Learnership they will received the qualification.

During the Learnership the learner will be paid a stipend by the employer. This is usually reimbursed to the employer by their Seta. 



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