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Numerous Learners refer to poor treatment by training providers and / or employers. It has become clear that many Learners feel disempowered, abused and exploited.

A Learner is required to sign an employment contract for the duration of a Learnership. A Learner is thus considered an employee and is protected by the same legislation that protects permanent employees. Although Learnerships are registered with SETAs, their authority is undermined by their absence in this tri-agreement.

If SETAs were visible throughout a learnership, I believe they could more effectively monitor learnership management and progress to ensure integrity. Currently, SETA monitoring is limited  to an accreditation site visit and the occasional follow-up at external verification (moderation).

SETAs rarely add value to provider capacitation even though they are perfectly positioned to do so. As more procedures such as an extension of scope and external moderation become online applications, site visits will become increasingly limited. Most training providers offer onsite Learnership training, yet SETAs seldom, if ever, visit these sites of delivery.  Their argument is that they lack resources – which points to their inability to ensure the integrity of performance throughout the learning value chain.

Dealing with Disputes

The following information is sourced from the Department of Labour website, click on various links provided and you’ll be directed here.

Basic Guide to Learnership Disputes 

Learners, employers or training providers can declare a dispute about the learnership with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Reasons for Disputes

Legislation in Section 19, of the Skills Development Act says that:
Disputes can be about –
  • learnership agreements;
  • employment contracts between learners and employers;
  • rules in the sectoral determination for learnerships; or
  • ending learnership agreements or employment contracts.

Chapter 4 : Learnerships: Section 19

Learners may refer the problem to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration established by section 112 of the Labour Relations Act, 1995 (Act No. 66 of 1995). If Learners do this, they must also inform their employer of the problem and the action they will be taking. However, if you are uncomfortable and afraid with this, go to the CCMA any way and they will inform your employer officially.

The CCMA will try to resolve the issue in a friendly manner and will patiently listen to both sides. Our legislation places equal rights ad responsibilities on learners (employees) and employers to do the right thing.

Sectoral Determination 5: Learnerships

This sectoral determination establishes conditions of employment and rates of allowances for learners in South Africa. It stipulates that employers give learner workers details of their employment in writing.

The image below highlights common complaints about learner and training contractual understanding. These conditions make it difficult for learners to succeed and focused on goals.

 Information Learners are Entitled To

According to the legislation, the following details must be given to Learners in writing, at the beginning of the program:

Employer’s and Learner’s Details

  • Employer’s full name
  • Employer’s address
  • Learner’s name and
  • The Learnership

Employment Details

  • Place/s of work
  • Date of employment
  • Working hours and days of work
  • The hours for study training sessions
  • The date when a learner’s employment will end.

Payment Details

  • Pay or the rate and method of calculating pay
  • Rate for overtime
  • Any other cash payments
  • Any payments in kind and their value
  • Frequency of payment
  • Any deductions

Leave details

  • Any leave to which the learner is entitled

Notice/Contract Period

  • Period of notice required, or
  • Period of contract

The Employment contract must be –

  • in writing and be signed by the employer and the learner;
  • concluded when the learner commences employment;
  • supplied with a copy of the contract of employment;
  • updated if any of the details change;
  • kept by the employer for a period of three years after the termination of the learnership

More about legislation


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gabriel Mar 16, 2016 at 4:29 pm

Thanks for posting!!

Akhona Sep 4, 2017 at 3:33 pm

Good afternoon

I would like to find out what is the recourse for a person who had signed a 12 months Learnership Employment Agreement and then was dismissed for misconduct after serving 6 months. It turned out later after his dismissal that the Learnership Programme itself was rejected by HWSETA. The matter had already been referred to CCMA & scheduled for the 22 September 2017.

Can he still pursue an unfair dismissal dispute at the CCMA

Kind Regards

moloto Jul 26, 2018 at 5:44 am

learnership unfairly treatment is a problem

lidz May 30, 2020 at 10:48 pm

is a company allowed to fine the learner a penalty or to penalize the learner on top of the deducted daily amount of payment for the no reason absence?

if you sent a pay query and they don’t want to pay all of the amount they owing you as learner what can you do about that?

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