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A learnership is a structured learning process for gaining theoretical knowledge and practical skills in the workplace leading to a qualification registered on the NQF.

A learnership is outcomes-based and not time-based and allows for recognition of prior learning. Learnership duration varies but the average is about 18 months.

Note: In practice, to attain an artisan equivalent qualification (NQF level 4) four separate learnerships will have to be completed (i.e. qualifications at NQF levels 1, 2, 3 and 4 will have to be attained).


  • Learners may be existing employees or new entrants
  • Learners must meet the entry requirements for the particular learnership as determined by the qualificationrequirements on which the learnership is based and learners must meet the selection criteria determined by the organisation taking on the learner


  • Employers are workplace approved and are required to meet the pre registration criteria.
  • Training providers are accredited to provide the chosen learnership by the MERSETA ETQA
  • Qualified assessors are available (either in-house or contracted in)
  • Companies advertise learnership opportunities using the media of their choice.
  • Learners may apply following the company process as advertised
  • Prospective candidates and opportunity seekers are encouraged to upload their information on the Department of Labour online website as Employers/Companies may recruit from the Employment Services for South Africa (ESSS) data base
  • Learner is selected by the company recruitment process
  • Learnership agreement is signed between the employer, provider and learner (tripartite agreement)
  • Short-term employment contract is signed between the employer and the learner if the learner is unemployed
  • The learning programme and process is discussed and agreed to with the provider
  • Employer funds the learnership, through grants obtained from the MERSETA
  • Employer and provider provide relevant learning and experience, working closely to manage the learnership process
  • Learner is provided with support through mentoring and feedback
  • Learner is assessed by a qualified assessor(formative and summative assessments)
  • The merSETA Quality Assuror is called to undertake moderation of the assessment and internal moderation must be undertaken by the provider.
  • On successful completion of the learnership, a national qualification is awarded to the learner.
  • Learner receive a statement of results for unit standards achieved if learnership is not successfully completed.
  • Once the learnership is completed,the employer can decide whether to sign the learner on for a new learnership,employ the learner or release the learner for future employment by another organization, if he/she was originally unemployed.

Trainee remuneration

  • The unemployed / pre-employed learner is paid an allowance. The minimum allowances for learners are regulated
  • The employed learner continues to receive his/her current salary

Grants from MERSETA

Contact the Merseta regional office for details on discretionary grants or visit the Merseta website at :

Tax rebates

A tax rebate for employers can also be claimed from SARS


Tax incentives for Learnerships

Government has announced the gazettal of the tax incentives for training. The deductions are intended to incentivise training and offer major positive benefits to employers.

The good news is that the incentives apply both to the new learnerships as well as to apprenticeship training where formal contracts are entered into and registered with the relevant seta.

Companies can claim the following deductions dependent on whether the learners are current employees or new entrants:

  • Learnership or apprenticeship: Current employee(so-called 18(1) learners) – 70% of the learner’s annual wages up to a maximum deduction of R17 500.
  • Learnerships or apprenticeship entry: New Entrant (an unemployed person – so-called 18(2) learners) – 100% of the learner allowances up to a maximum deduction of R25 000.
  • Successful completion of learnership/apprenticeship: Current employee – 100% of annual wage up to a maximum deduction of R25 000.
  • Successful completion of learnerships/apprenticeship: New Entrant – 100% of annual wage up to a maximum deduction of R25 000.

If the learnership is a multi-year, multi-level programme, the companies can claim for every successfully completed phase of the learnership.

The amendment is applicable to any learnership or apprenticeship agreement signed on or after 1 October 2001.

It is hoped that these incentives, together with substantial discretionary grants can be accessed from the merSETA, will encourage companies to increase their activities substantially and reap the benefits of higher skills levels and improved productivity.