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South African government incentives for broad-based black economic empowerment have encouraged companies to invest in skills development training for existing staff as well as new recruits. Companies that have the infrastructure and capital to fund customised skills training can apply for limited upfront cash grants and qualify for tax rebates once training is complete.

The Skills Development Act of 1999 laid the foundation for education and training to occur in a format that could be monitored and controlled by Government.

Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA) were tasked with the responsibility to ensure that all training organisations complied with a set standard dictated by industry leaders. That, in turn, gave rise to learnership programmes comprising theoretical teaching plus practical on-the-job training that would culminate in a formal qualification over 12 to 18 months. This resulted in encouraging existing staff to strive for personal improvement, thereby promoting diligence, loyalty and commitment in the workplace as well as attracting new recruits.

Learnerships can be compared to apprenticeships, except that they are run with tighter controls and more stringent training timetables.

The call centre industry is one sector where learnership programmes have paid dividends. Companies implementing training to develop more efficient call centre staff have attracted highly motivated employees, grateful for the opportunity to study and work and thereby encouraged to deliver better results.

Staff members appreciate interest and investment from management and are motivated to work harder to meet targets, resolve customer complaints, improve service and even reduce company expenses.

Employees are only too happy to sacrifice their spare time when their studies are being financed, their career path is clear, and they are working towards a formal qualification. Studies have shown that one day of training equates to one month of prolonged retention. Staff turnover is therefore reduced, because employees feel that their needs are being met. The prospect of promotion and an accompanying salary increase post-qualification is another motivating factor.

Call centre employees who know their employers are investing in their future automatically engage better with customers. This has the knock-on effect of producing more effective service, pleasing customers and generating repeat business.

Learn more about on our SETA Accredited Programmes.