Understanding Learnerships and How They Work in South Africa

In the evolving landscape of education and employment, learnerships have emerged as a pivotal bridge linking the two.

This guide delves into what a learnership is, how it functions, and specifically explores the payment structure involved, alongside other critical details that could make it a crucial step in your career development.

Let’s get started.

What is a Learnership?

A learnership is a structured program that offer you a combined theory-based learning and practical workplace experience.

It is designed to provide participants such as yourself, often referred to as learners, with the necessary skills and workplace experience that pertain to a specific occupation or sector of interest.

The concept originated in South Africa but has gained traction globally as an effective way to prepare individuals for the workforce.

Key Components of a Learnership

Learnerships are typically composed of the following elements:

Theoretical Training

This component consists of instructional sessions where learners, you will receive education on the theoretical aspects of your study field. These sessions are usually conducted at a training provider or educational institution.

Practical Training

Practical training involves on-the-job training where you’re required to apply your theoretical knowledge in a real workplace setting. This part of the learnership is critical as it provides hands-on experience under the supervision of a mentor.


Throughout the learnership, learners are assessed through various methods to ensure they meet the required standards of both the theoretical and practical components.

Successful completion often leads to a recognized qualification related to the specific career path.

How a Learnership Works

  1. Agreement: A learnership requires a tripartite agreement between the learner, the employer hosting the practical training, and the educational provider overseeing the theoretical training.
  2. Duration: Typically, a learnership can last from one to three years, depending on the occupation and the specific qualifications being pursued.
  3. Certification: Upon completion, learners receive a nationally recognized certificate that signifies their competence in a specific job role.

Payment Structure in Learnerships

Learnerships often involve a stipend paid to the learners during the duration of the program. The specifics of the payment can vary significantly based on factors such as the funding agency, the industry, and the level of skills being provided. Here are some details:

Stipend Amount

The stipend is usually intended to cover basic expenses like transport and meals, rather than serve as a full salary. The amount can vary, but it typically aligns with minimum wage regulations or sector-specific determinations.

Funding Sources

Payments to learners can be funded by the hosting company, through governmental grants, or through a combination of both. In many cases, governmental incentives are available to companies that participate in learnership programs, aimed at encouraging the development of skilled workers.

Benefits of Participating in a Learnership

For Learners

  • Skills Development: Learnerships provide critical skills that are directly applicable to the job market.
  • Work Experience: Learners gain valuable industry experience, making them more competitive in the job market.
  • Networking Opportunities: Interacting with professionals in the field provides valuable connections that can aid future job searches.
  • Financial Support: The stipend helps mitigate financial pressures while gaining education and experience.

For Employers

  • Skilled Employees: Employers gain workers who have been trained to meet specific standards and requirements of the job.
  • Productivity: Learnerships can increase productivity by ensuring that new employees are more capable and efficient from the start.
  • Incentives: Employers benefit from various incentives for investing in learnership programs.

How to Apply for a Learnership

Individuals interested in a learnership should start by researching opportunities in their desired field and region. Applications typically require a detailed CV, a cover letter, and sometimes, an application form. It’s important to meet all eligibility requirements and deadlines to enhance your chances of being selected.


Learnerships are an innovative way to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical experience. They offer a structured path to employment, providing learners with the skills and experiences necessary to thrive in their chosen careers.

With the added benefit of financial support through a stipend, learnerships present a practical solution for career advancement. Whether you’re a recent school leaver or looking to change careers, a learnership could be a valuable opportunity to consider.

In a world where practical experience often complements academic achievement, embracing opportunities like learnerships can significantly enhance your employability and career trajectory.