Are learnerships still relevant in 2023?
Every year billions are spent on training and skills programmes for South Africa’s youth. The challenge is that while they teach tens of thousands of youth new skills, they don’t necessarily create a clear path into actual jobs. In fact, Stats SA’s latest quarterly employment figures suggest things are getting worse, with more than four out of every 10 young South Africans currently being jobless. What’s needed is a more targeted approach. For a growing number of institutions and businesses, the answer appears to lie in youth learnership programmes that lead to direct employment.
The World Bank and the International Labour Organisation certainly think so, saying learnerships can have long-term positive effects on skills development, entrepreneurship and economic development.
Shobana Maikoo, Head of TransUnion’s Global Capability Centre (GCC) in Africa, says learnerships are a key tool in South Africa’s ongoing struggle to get young people employed.
The GCC’s own experience highlights the effectiveness of this approach. Since being founded in 2021, it has taken 60% of its 100+ learners into full-time employment after their 12-month learnerships. “Businesses need to be more precise in their upskilling efforts and focus on specific skills that are sought after in the local market – in other words, skills that will land these learners actual jobs. The beauty of learnerships is that they effectively provide on-the-job training for the roles the youth might transition into,” says Maikoo.