The Learnership Stakeholder Triumvirate

The Learnership Stakeholder Triumvirate
Rajan Naidoo, Managing Director of EduPower Skills Academy

Maximising the value of learnerships to create work-ready learner graduates

The intention of learnerships is to create opportunities for unemployed or unemployable learners by teaching them the skills they need to build sustainable careers. To achieve this, it is essential that the three parties involved in a learnership – the learner, the training provider and the sponsor – participate to the fullest extent.

Rajan Naidoo, Managing Director of EduPower Skills Academy, says that to successfully deliver learners who are employable, the three parties have to work together.

“When this triumvirate works synergistically, a learnership can produce highly-successful graduates who are thoroughly prepared for the world of work,” Rajan explains. “Too often though, each party is chasing their own agenda: the sponsor is simply looking for B-BBEE legislative compliance, the learner is in it for the stipend which effectively robs them of a sustainable career and the training provider is in learnerships for the money.”

Rajan explores the responsibilities of each party in delivering a successful learnership:

1. The Learner

For many young people, learnerships are the only way they can access the job market, especially first-time work seekers. They need to fully appreciate the enormity and gravitas of the learnership as a career launchpad. Learnerships afford them a stipend of minimum wage or better, a formal qualification and invaluable work experience and work readiness. These young people have the enviable opportunity to secure employment – possibly with the sponsor – after the learnership, so they need to display the performance and conduct required. This necessitates a conscious choice by the learner to apply the right mindset and attitude.

Sadly, this is not always the case. Too often poor attendance and punctuality and a disengaged performance negates the learner’s chances for a career launch. To counter this, the right attitude must be emphasised from the start of the learnership and this should be bolstered through a work readiness programme that guides the learner and keeps them on the path to success.

2. The Training Provider

Learnerships are as much about the learner as they are about the training provider and workplace host. The attitude of the training provider must be about more than financial gain or certification outcomes. Training providers should be passionate about creating employable, work-ready learnership graduates.

One test of a training provider’s commitment should be their willingness to hire their own graduates as this proves the confidence they have in their process. At the very least, the training provider and work host must be prepared to attach their brand to a work reference for their graduates. Learners have a duty to call out training providers that don’t provide the quality of training or work experience that the learnership requires.

3. The Sponsor

The third party in the learnership stakeholder triumvirate is the sponsor and while their involvement is related to their B-BBEE scorecard, it also needs to be about the learner. The sponsor holds the key to the quality of the learnership delivery as they choose the training partner and determine the principles for the learnership.

When the sponsor cares about the welfare of the learner, the choice of the training provider partner is paramount. Unfortunately, many sponsors appoint training partners to maximise returns of B-BBEE points and tax rebates, sacrificing the quality of learnerships in the process. The value system of learnership sponsors must go beyond B-BBEE compliance, ensuring that learners are employable and become economically active. A “good” training provider partner will deliver on this value system.

While the sponsor may not be able to offer a graduate learner employment after the learnership, if they choose the correct training partner that provides the right level of support, the learner can become self-employed in our growing services economy. To this end, the sponsor should package their skills and enterprise development budget toward achieving skills that culminate in self-employment with full support from the training provider acting as a mentor after training.

Rajan concludes: “A stakeholder learnership partnership with common values that is oriented toward a human welfare outcome is essential when conducting a learnership and could become the gamechanger in our quest to solve our youth unemployment crisis.”