How Low Learnership Stipends Challenge Youth

Low learnership stipends challenge youth. How much do you spend on learnership stipends when taking on unemployed youth?

How Much Do Self-sustaining Youth Need to Survive?

Most organisations justify stipends below R3000 per month with ‘we’re providing a vital opportunity for an unemployed person to become qualified and job-experienced.’

This is true, but why must learners suffer for this apparently virtuous opportunity that is fully refundable and attracts additional BEE points and tax rebates?

Learnership Stipends and Youth Challenges

Learnerships and apprenticeships are no longer pro-poor, meaning they are not being used to facilitate an unqualified, unemployed individual from a marginalised background into the space of the qualified and employable.

For example, where do youth who had to take on the care of their siblings and who lost their parents and grandparents, go?

In 2015, Stats SA’s General Household Survey showed that there are about 90 000 children in 50 000 child-headed households. While this figure is not large in relation to the total number of children in the country, this is still a cause for concern. Child-headed households are at risk of having to cope without parental care or regular income and are located in areas where services are poor. In addition, this vulnerable group has to deal with emotional strain and is more likely to be abused and exploited. (Parliament)

Learnership Stipends and Youth Sustainability

Learners are responsible for food, travel, toiletries and attire. Those on learnerships in corporate spaces are under additional pressure because of the emphasis on appearance and cultural fit. For most, this is their first experience in a formal workspace. They have no suitable clothes and struggle to get started on a confident note.

At the next level, we have learners who need to relocate in order to take up the opportunity. SETAs have issued relocation allowances in the past as they understood challenges faced, particularly by black learners.

Unfortunately, employers often lack this knowledge and sensitivity – regardless of their own colour.

There appears to be an assumption that black people can afford to live on less as they have a ‘community’ to support them and live cheaply in townships. How else do you explain paying someone R1 500 per month for full-time work – even if they are only a ‘learner?’

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