It is ironic that companies struggle to find quality staff while there are millions of youth without jobs. Right from the first democratic elections, government has realised that it required a new approach to reduce unemployment. The country needed to roll-out training on a massive scale to benefit the large number of jobless youth in waiting. Learnerships have been a buzz-word ever since.
Fast forward to the present day. The country still faces the same problem – and the global economy is still in decline. You would think that many companies would have climbed on the learnership bandwagon. Alas, they’re far and few between in spite of learnership benefits far exceeding their shortfall. Why is this so?
Learnerships are still perceived as a corporate liability
There’s a corporate perception that hosting and taking on learners on an ongoing basis is an unprofitable expense, that the resources needed to be set into place outweigh returns. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
- Salaries: learners work for a third of the average entry-level market value e.g. where a call-centre consultant who’s just joined the job-market qualifies for R4, 500 after being screened for an advertised position, a learner trained for the same vacancy will require only R1, 500.
- Equity: Companies stand to earn up to 15 percent of their Broadbased Black Economic Empowerment score if as little as five percent of its workforce is made up of learners.
- Learnership Tax Breaks: The best part of having consistent learnership intake programs are SARS tax rebates. Companies are entitled to up to R 50 000 per learner in tax breaks per annum; what’s more, this figure in itself suffices in covering learnership overheads and sundry costs.
Concluding our brief document we’ll quote the Managing Director of i-Fundi Stefan Lauber, “Everyone wins with learnerships. Learners get decent work, companies find better staff, customers enjoy good service and South Africa as a whole benefits.”