The Importance and Benefits of Learnerships for Empoyers

By natashabovill, 25 February, 2011

What is a learnership?

It is a structured learning programme during which the learner spends some time learning theory and some time learning practical skills in the workplace.

It leads to a qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework. Such a qualification is designed to provide not only technical and work-specific skills, but life skills such as communication and teamwork.

Before the programme is implemented, a contract is drawn up by the employer, the learner and an accredited skills development training provider. Each agrees to specific conditions and the contract protects all parties for the duration of the programme.

What is the difference between a learnership and a qualification?

A learnership leads to a qualification. However, to obtain a qualification, it is not necessary to enter into a learnership.

What are the benefits of learnerships to employers?

  • Learnerships involve a high portion of on-the-job training so your productivity is not impacted as much as with traditional learning methods.
  • Learnerships carry tax incentives and grants to make them more financially attractive. SETAS offer cash grants for learnerships and the government offers companies tax incentives participating in learnerships.
  • You business can improve its competitiveness by earning additional points on the BEE scorecard that are reserved for learnership training.
  • Learnerships are practical and can only be registered if they relate to existing skills needs in an economic sector.
  • Learnerships are plugged into the National Qualifications Framework so that they give access to further learning and are nationally recognised.

As training programmes that combine theory and relevant practical elements, learnerships create skilled people who:

  • tend to work more independently, need less supervision and possess enhanced problem solving capabilities;
  • are motivated and strive to add value to the business;
  • are less likely to leave a company that takes an interest and invests in their personal and professional development.
  • entering into learning contracts with unemployed people, contributes to building up the skills pool, from which employers may recruit relevant skills as needed.
  • the more skills gained, the greater the productivity and the more meaningful the individual’s contribution to South Africa’s global competitiveness and to creating an environment conducive to investment.

What are the benefits for learners?

Learners need learnerships because they cannot afford the loss of income that full-time study would cost, and they cannot afford to be on learning programmes that are not directly and practically related to their field of work and better career prospects.

Learnerships also provide a launch pad for further learning and give learners the opportunity to gain a qualification through a structured learning programme. This qualification is nationally recognised and portable from one company to another. Furthermore, a good qualification provides a basis for further personal development. Work standards and job satisfaction are improved and the learner has a greater self image and self esteem.

Are there any drawbacks to implementing learnerships?

Proper planning is required to ensure the success of a learnership. Companies need to make sure that they have a proper learner support structure in place consisting of mentors and coaches that can assist learners with the practical applications of the theory and skills learned during the classroom based training back in the workplace. Another draw back is the administration involved but the financial benefits the companies get in terms of tax incentives, SETA learnership grants to fund the training or the mandatory grants that companies can claim back from paying skills development levies far outweighs the amount of paperwork involved.

As an employer, how can I fund a learnership?

As mentioned above, SETAs and the government offer incentives for this type of learning.

Tax Incentives (SARS)

Tax Incentives are deductions on your taxable income that you can claim for each learnership candidate that you have in your employment, once at the start of the learnership, and once again at its completion. These incentives are legislated in section 12H of the Income Tax Act, 58 of 1962 and the amendments made in January 2010.

There are only 2 levels.

  1. R 30 000 commencement and completion allowances for learnerships and apprenticeships
  2. R 50 000 commencement and completion allowances for learners with disabilities

The principle is straightforward.

  1. For each year that a learner is registered for a learnership linked to the employer’s trade, the employer claims and allowance of R 30 000 for that learnership. This allowance is based on a 12 months periods, and full periods of a month, so if a learnership starts half way through the employer’s year of assessment, half of the allowance is claimed by the employer in the first year and half in the second.
  2. If the learner leaves during the year, there is no recoupment. The R 30 000 is merely apportioned for the part of the year, so that if the learner leaves after 4 months, the employer only claims 4/12 of the allowance, i.e. R 10 000. These must be full months, so if the learner leaves after 3 and a half months, the allowance must be claimed for 3 months, i.e. 3/12 X R 30 000 = R 7 500.
  3. Similarly, if a learnership spans 3 and half months in the first year of assessment and 8 and a half months in the second year of assessment of a single employer, the employer claims commencement allowance of R 7500 in the first year and R 20 000 in the second year.
  4. When a learnership is successfully completed, the employer claims an allowance of R 30 000 for each completed 12 months of the learnership. So if it was a 2 year learnership, the employer claims an allowance of R 60 000. If the learnership was for 30 months, the employer’s allowance in the year of completion is also R 60 000, because two full periods of 12 months has been completed. No completion allowance is claimable until the learnership is successfully completed.
  5. If the learner goes to another employer while he is still doing his learnership and the learnership is carried on, linked to that employer’s trade, the new employer claims the learnership for the rest of the year, i.e. 8/12 X R 30 000 = R 20 000. The new employer will also claim the full completion allowance, even if the learner was not employed by that employer in the earlier years or months of the learnership.
  6. If a learner fails his or her learnership and registers for a new learnership, section 12H will not apply to the new learnership if it contains the same education and training component of the learnership that the person failed.

Learnership Grants (SETAs)

Many SETAs offer learnership grants ranging from R 4 000 – R 40 000 per learner. However the grants are subject to availability and are offered on a first come, first serve basis on the condition that the learnership address a scarce skills in the sector, so you will need to plan ahead and get your grant application in to the SETA as early as possible to stand a chance of getting the additional help.

To find out more about the learnerships Compuscan Academy offers please contact us at Tel: 021 888 6000 on [email protected] or you can contact BANKSETA to find out about learnerships in general at Tel: 011 805 9661. Compuscan Academy also has a blog! Check it out on

Sources: SA Skills Handbook 2010/11 and



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