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The Government has introduced training opportunities called Learnerships. A Learnership is a work-based learning programme.

Learnerships combine a structured learning component with practical work experience that is acquired while being employed in a company, government department or small business. Learnerships are available to people who have left school, college or other training institutions after completing some formal education, as well as for people who have been unemployed for some time. To be eligible you have to be at least 16- years-old and younger than 35.

A student who is enrolled in a learnership is required to complete his/ her classroom-based learning at a college or training centre and to do on-the-job training in the workplace. This means unemployed people can only participate in a learnership if there is an employer that is prepared to provide the required work experience.

People entering a learnership do not have to pay anything for the programme. Learnership programmes are funded by the SETAs. Instead, all unemployed people selected for a learnership programme will receive a learner allowance by the employer. The allowance is not a salary, but is intended to cover expenses like travel and meals which a learner will have to pay while doing a learnership. The precise amount of the allowance depends on the type of learnership and the level of the qualification.

Whereas some learnerships do not require learners to meet any entry requirements, others demand from learners to have a Grade 12 certificate.

Some learnerships have entry requirements that relate directly to the field of study. For example, you will not be able to enter a learnership in the field of financial management if you have not completed some basic training in finance. It usually takes a year to complete a learnership, but some may take 2 or more years to finish. In some instances learners could finish a learnership in a shorter time through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

This is a process whereby learners will be able to get formal recognition for parts of the programme they have already completed through previous learning or work-based experience. At the end of a successful learnership a participant will receive an official SETA certificate, recognised nationally, which will indicate the area in which he/she has developed skills.

It is important to note that if you are unemployed when the learnership begins, there is no guarantee of a job at the end.

The employer who provides you with training does not have to offer you a job. But with a qualification and work experience you will be in a better position than before to get a job. You may also want to think about studying further or starting your business. Labour centres, private employment agencies or organisations such as the National Youth Development Agency could be helpful.

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