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Unlock a competitive business advantage for your business and people with employed learnerships

Opinion by Anton Visser, Chief Operations Officer of Alefbet Learning

Many South African corporate organisations spend millions of Rands on learnerships as a tick-box, compliance exercise to gain BBBEE points, without alignment to the business strategy. It’s a massive lost opportunity to leverage the real power of employed learnerships – which can and should be customised for the needs of the business and employees – to achieve a true competitive advantage through meaningful career and skills progression that takes the business – and its people – forward.

Anton Visser – Group COO Alefbet Learning

Employed learnerships lay the foundation of a learning culture within the business

Employed learnerships help to meet the specific requirements of the workplace and the career ambitions of your employees, creating well-rounded candidates who have a good grasp of all the work processes.  What better business success story is there to tell than having a pool of talent coming through, building your succession and skills pipeline?

When it comes to employed learnerships, many employers are not aware that learnerships can and should be customised for the needs of the business and its people.  With the right L&D partner, every learnership can be customised to the business strategy, as long as it meets the requirements in terms of notional hours and the formative and summative assessments. Employed learnerships benefit the company and employee’s personal growth and development, and it leads to an NQF registered qualification.

Learnership benefits for employers and employees

For employees, it’s an opportunity to earn an income while learning new skills and gaining valuable workplace experience, to earn a recognised qualification, adding to their value and employability, and leads to an improvement in morale, self-esteem, personal development and confidence.

For employers, employed learnerships raise current employee skill levels, and heightened skills lead to more productivity and more engaged employees. Skilled employees tend to work more independently and need less supervision, and have greater problem-solving capabilities. They will also be more engaged and committed to a business and employer that invests in their professional development. The more skilled your employees become, the more meaningful their contribution to the business’ competitiveness and that of our country at large. Finally, employers can achieve all the added benefit of tax incentives and an improved B-BBEE scorecard. 

Learnerships have evolved for a hybrid world of work

One of the challenges with learnerships is the time needed off work for employees to complete the theoretical/lecture-based component of the learnership, while not impacting their productivity.  SA Business School has addressed this challenge by taking its learnership programmes online, revolutionising the way that learnerships are delivered in a rapidly changing organisational training and education environment.  The online learnership is about interactive, online learning in combination with practical work experience.  The big benefit is that companies that have geographically dispersed learners across the country can now bring them together in one online learning platform where they get to interact with their trainers and content, at their own pace. It also means that employees embarking on learnerships don’t compromise their productivity and can better manage their work and study demands. The flexibility and modernisation that this brings to the employed learnership process is ground-breaking in South Africa.

Deploy learnerships as strategic enablers to competitive advantage for your business 

It is time to abandon the tick-box approach to learnerships and skills development, and to invest in them as the strategic enablers they were intended to be to address critical skills shortages, create jobs, progress careers and deliver a competitive advantage for businesses and our economy. 

Any efforts to unlock your workforce’s potential starts with it being part and parcel of your business strategy, with a clear plan that outlines the skill sets and knowledge needed to meet business goals and objectives. It is time for learnership programmes to receive the credit they deserve and for more employers to realise their power and value. Learnerships have been one of the most significant catalysts for long-term employment in South Africa for the past 20 years. The time is long overdue for their seat at the executive boardroom table on how to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage in a world where the skills needed by your people and business are constantly evolving.

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