FET college

Ten things to look for in a learnership partner

Having an ongoing learnership programme yields many rewards for the companies involved, and these range from increments to the Broad-based Black Empowerment Equity rating, SARS tax-breaks of up to R50 000 per learner per anum, as well asreduced overhead costs and sundry considering that a typical learner costs a third of what an entry-level staff member does –the former having the advantage of having been trained on reasoning skills, customer service and communication skills, to skim through a few learnership benefits.

But the most crucial and often unobserved question is how to identify an accredited and authorised learnership partner? We’ll deal with this query in 10 bullets to be precise…

  1. Quality people: Training being a foregone conclusion, the process has to start at the recruitment stage with the screening of the candidate pool. Any relationship that exists between a recruiter and said learnership partner is advantageous in choosing the best nominees.
  2. Cost of candidates: You want a learnership partner that guarantees motivated learners at a fraction of the cost. The ball-park rule is that learners will cost a third of the entry-level market value.
  3. Nationally recognised certifier: The learnership partner should have the necessary SETA accreditation to certify learner applicants that exit the learnership with an accredited and high quality qualification
  4. Candidate short-listing capabilities: On average, only around five to ten percent of nominees that apply for learnerships are worth being consideredfor a skills development program. The learnership partner should have sound processes to carry out or oversee a selection process effectively and fairly. Again, ongoing collaboration with a recruitment agency is vital.
  5. Meet 100-90-80-70 standard: SETA has parameters in place which call for 100% of projects to be completed by learners, 90% learner retention during the program, 80% of applicants to acquire national certification and that 70% find permanent positions with host employers.
  6. Consistent track-record: The learnership partner’s ability to get things done correctly and in an effective and standardised fashion.
  7. Highly effective monitoring system: Legitimate learnership partners need effective monitoring tools to track learner progress and alert management of any implementation problems in order to trigger corrective action.
  8. Proprietary evaluation tool:Used by prospective learnership partner to track project’s impact and return on investment (ROI) to ensure training leads to measurable outcome.
  9. Compliance: You should be able to rely upon a learnership provider to assist when it comes tothe implementation of good-practice operational and learning compliance measures, be it by way of efficient admin, relevant contractual submissions etc.
  10. BBEEE: Anyone who promises to help you improve the Broadbased Black Empowerment Equity (BBEE) rating of your organisation should have a good score to show to your procurement department, therefore demand certification and credentials.

Why Learnerships play such a crucial role in Skill-Retention and Attrition

The scourge of good, solid experience in the workplace and job market in general is attrition, and the call centre industry is no exception when it comes to this. Walk into any corporate call centre setup and the agents gracing monthly-target notices in cafeterias are the same ones making a move to the neighbouring company while the coffee’s still hot in the pot; and for what you ask…better working shifts, perhaps; better hourly-rates –you bet!

Quality consultants are hotly contested all the time, and this is partly the reason why end-of-month customer satisfaction stats show spikes one month and dips the in next one. It boils down to inconsistent service, where in one instance, a bright front-line seasoned staff member might enthral and exceed a client’s expectations with their assertive and pleasant manners, and when this same caller rings again months later the unanticipated result is that of alienation because an agent of lesser quality handles the call.

On the other hand you have learners, eager to put down their roots and stick it out with their prospective permanent employer. Since the inception of accredited learnerships in keeping with SETA standards, such enthusiastic entrants to the job-space come ready with an instilled professional etiquette, high-bill of manners and motivation. Most of them have suffered the hardships of joblessness and are resolute in making their stay a lasting one and their impact felt – they’re not rejoining the unemployment ranks!

Findings from the collaboration of relevant SETAs and host organisations show that amongst learnership benefits is the parting of industry good-practices to their applicants, from good communication and people skills, excellent product knowledge coupled with the ability to solve problems as they arise. It needs to be mentioned again that these pupils are prone to out-performing seasoned employees due to their insatiable hunger and self-motivation, plus the bonus of never having acquired bad-habits from a previous working experience (as is often the case with experienced agents).

Thus, upon entering the workplace, they are sharp from having undergone intensive screening and countless assessments. On average it will take a learner a month’s conventional on-the-job training and orientation to come up to speed and start pursuing targeted productivity levels – this runs contrary to the misperception that learners place the company’s reputation and customer satisfaction at stake.

Of utmost importance to a learner is a credible résumé: it should show their healthy level of commitment; so job-hopping in the early stages of their tenure they feel would count against them in the short and midterm – they are after all building a career path with as high an ambition as a lawyer or any other professional harbours; they’re prepared to work at a fraction of their comparative worth in light of the entry-level market worth – and no better hourly-rate or shift from a generous neighbour will deter them from their goal. Give them enough time and they too will have amassed enough confidence, call-handling finesse and call-control skills to rank amongst the most experienced lot on the floor…for a fraction the cost.