Self-funding learnerships that benefit the sponsor as much as the learner
For many companies, learnerships remain a grudge purchase and a tick-box exercise for B-BBEE compliance. But what if companies could make their learnerships self-funding? If, during the 12 months of the programme, their learners were to actually contribute to developing their business?
According to Sean Sharp, Executive Head of Sales at EduPower Skills Academy, by making learnerships self-funding, it is possible to exponentially increase the employability of our youth. “We need to reverse the grim youth unemployment rate in South Africa and learnerships are the best way to do it,” says Sean.
He believes that while the government has a role to play, it will not be able to achieve the required impact alone. “We need to find a way to get more companies involved. This can only be achieved if learnerships are delivered in such a way that they can pay for themselves,” says Sean.
While Sean acknowledges that there are excellent tax incentives and rebates available, these only cover some of the costs for learnerships. In fact, companies are mostly unaware of the true returns that learnerships can deliver.
“Work experience makes up 70% of a learnership so when a programme is correctly facilitated, this translates to over 1 000 hours of practical experience for the learner,” Sean explains. “On-site learnerships reap the returns of this work experience as their candidates immediately apply what they are learning.”
Off-site or Hosted Learnerships
“Off-site or hosted learnerships seldom return any value to the sponsor,” continues Sean. A hosted learnership is when a company does not have the capacity to host its learners. The training provider, therefore, also hosts the learners at a workplace facility. This includes providing dedicated mentors to assist and guide the learners through their work experience. This form of learnership is popular for People with Disabilities but is also used for able-bodied learners too. Generally, the work experience component of hosted learnerships is based on simulations, not real work environments.
The right partner is essential
EduPower, however, set out to do things differently as they wanted to provide their learners with relevant and practical skills that would positively impact employability. “Our learnerships focus on getting our candidates work ready and that’s why they work an eight-hour day, five days a week in a 500-seat Business Process Outsource (BPO) Centre. Our learners work with live campaigns, talking to real people and having real conversations,” Sean explains.
For the Academy’s clients, this provides a unique value-add as they can deploy their learners on their own Call Centre projects. EduPower’s learners have been exposed to many different campaigns including customer surveys, promotional campaigns, lead generation, data scrubbing and even customer care campaigns. They have also worked on financial projects including B-BBEE supplier rating checks, debtor balance confirmations and POPIA campaigns.
“This model is proving to be a game changer. It allows our learners to gain invaluable business skills and sets them on a path to long-term employment,” he continues. “For our clients, it provides a zero-cost recovery model as they are able to run the learners as a cost-effective extension of their team, without the set-up costs for a BPO Centre and the staff to run it.”
In addition, the model also affords EduPower’s clients a 12-month screening process in which they can provide full-time employment for their top performers.
An opportunity for the future
For businesses, it is essential to commit to youth skills development as they are the future of every workforce in every industry. EduPower’s work experience model is an ideal mechanism for companies to develop new talent in a way that leverages B-BBEE compliance and adds to the growth of the business too.
“With the youth unemployment rate as high as it is, investment into our youth in terms of developing and mentoring them, makes sound business sense for the future. Learnerships can make a real, measurable difference for the learner, the client and ultimately South Africa’s economy,” Sean concludes.