Have you considered the "Learner" in Learnerships?

Lee-Anne Pattle

I was very recently faced with a disturbing situation; the facility we use to present our learnership offerings (Work Based Agreement) has many conference rooms, one of which is a large enough to accommodate around 50 people.  It was in this very room that a learnership was being rolled out. In other words, 50 learners were in the venue with one facilitator! I overhead some learners complaining about not having course material, pens or even a clue as to what the learnership was about.

Sadly, the above is a common occurrence – whilst learnerships have many benefits to the learners: a stipend, a full qualification, a contract and the potential to find work if they impress at the workplace they are being hosted at, there still seems to be a  tick box approach without considering any elements of quality or the learner experience.

Successfully running a learnership requires you to have more than just a venue, course material and a facilitator – it requires you to have an understanding of the needs of your learners – we all know how desperate the youth are to be employed; this opportunity is so important to them.  Please consider the following:

  1. Have they already done a learnership? Did they exit? Do they even know what the qualification was or who the employer was? I was so (not anymore) surprised when I asked a learner what learnership they had completed previously, and they had no idea.


  1. What if they have completed a learnership already and it was at a higher level? I recently had this situation with the learner, and I asked her why she wanted to do a learnership at a lower level – the answer, not surprising, was: “I have no other options”. As unfortunate as this is it is still their choice to participate or not. This presents a real challenge in ensuring that the learner remains stimulated in class – inform the facilitator and perhaps allow the learner to perform a coaching role for the other learners who may have never done a learnership before.


  1. A learnership is also a long commitment and the learner is with you for a few days at a time. What support systems do you have in place for them? Do they have access to a kitchen to warm up their food? (many learners bring food from home as the stipend can often only cover the travel cost. Do they have a place to sit during tea-time and lunch time?


  1. Class size we all know that to truly have a successful learning experience you need to connect with your fellow learners and the facilitator – if you are in a class of 50, this is very difficult to do - smaller class sizes where learners can engage with each other and where the facilitator can manage the pace of the content is truly a fundamental component to the success of the programme.


  1. We all have health and safety support at our place of work but do our learners have the same opportunities to visit nurses etc when they are on a learnership? Remember they too have a contract with the employer and should have access to support.

Some of these learners have a multitude of challenges that they face every day – given that we know how desperate they are, are we supporting them beyond paying them a stipend and supplying them with course material?

In a perfect world Learnerships are a win – win situation for all involved – the client gets to secure recognition in 2 areas  (3 if you have disabled learner) of  the SD component of BBBEE, gets a tax rebate, benefits from ETI and possibly gets more business because of a lower BBBEE score level. The learner potentially secures a stipend, earns a qualification and an opportunity to shine in the workplace. BUT this is not a perfect world – many learners do not earn the qualification and yes sometimes it if because of lack of effort but often it is also because they were not supported during the process.

Contact Lee-Anne at The Drake Training Academy to get more information about how Learnership and short courses:

[email protected]

0860 11 24 63

 Who is Lee-Anne Pattle?

Lee-Anne Pattle is the GM of the Drake Training Academy – having spent the last 20 years in Learning and Development, she has witnessed interventions from all angles, the client/corporate need, the lecturer/facilitators perspective and the learner perspective. Lee-Anne is passionate about ensuring that Learning interventions matter for all concerned.


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