Employment and learning options for young people

In what capacity can you employ a young person? In any, but for more formal, longer-term employment opportunities, there are options that will help to compensate for the risk you are taking by hiring someone inexperienced, while also offering young employees the opportunity to develop their skills further in a more structured way. Here follows a short summary of these options:

  • Internships, which may follow an academic graduate qualification, or for in-service training leading to an academic qualification;
  • Learnerships, which lead to an occupational qualification or part qualification;
  • Apprenticeships, which lead to a trade.

More about internships

The Services SETA defines an internship as “any carefully monitored work or service experience in which a candidate has intentional learning goals and reflects actively on what she or he is learning throughout the experience. Characteristics include:

  • Duration of anywhere from a month to two years, but a typical experience usually lasts from three to six months.
  • Generally a one-time experience.
  • Internships may be part of an educational programme and carefully monitored and evaluated for academic credit, or internships can be part of a learning plan that someone develops individually.
  • An important element that distinguishes an internship from a short-term job or volunteer work is that an intentional ‘learning agenda’ is structured into the experience.
  • Learning activities common to most internship include learning objectives, observation, reflection, evaluation and assessment.
  • An effort is made to establish a reasonable balance between the intern’s learning goals and the specific work an organisation needs done.
  • Internships promote academic, career and/or personal development”.

More about learnerships

According to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) a learnership is a work-based learning programme that leads to an NQF registered qualification (or part qualification). Learnerships are directly related to an occupation or field of work, for example, electrical engineering, hairdressing or project management, and are managed by Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).

Learnerships are specifically focused on offering young people (between 17 and 35 years), who cannot afford the loss of income that full-time study would cost, an opportunity to gain a qualification through a structured learning programme that emphasises on-the-job training.

To offer a learnership you as the employer will have to comply with SETA requirements and formally team up with a registered training provider (or become one yourself). Offering learnerships carry tax incentives and grants for employers. It can also earn BEE scorecard points.

To read more about the importance and benefits of learnerships for employers, click here.

More about apprenticeships

According to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), “apprenticeships combine theory, practical work and workplace practice in a chosen trade field. In the case of a listed trade, an apprenticeship ends in a trade test and an artisan certificate of competence. In South Africa, apprenticeships are monitored by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). Apprenticeships are aimed at developing trade-specific skills and pre-approved employers usually offer apprenticeships in conjunction with an education and training component often facilitated by a TVET college. Employers advertise apprenticeships in newspapers, or place adverts in the city, town or community centres. Apprentices entering apprenticeships should at least be 15 years of age. A formal contract is signed between the apprentice and the pre-approved employer for the duration of the apprenticeship. The apprentice is viewed as an employee of the company and works for the company for the agreed time in order to gain the skills and experience necessary to work in the industry. Employment after qualifying as an artisan is mainly guaranteed, unless the contract is mutually ended”.

For the Department of Labour (DoL) guide on apprenticeships, including regional contact details, click here.

Note that the Skills Universe website allows for questions and high-quality advice on skills development and training in South Africa without any consultation cost.


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