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How to Measure Learnership Impact on Youth in SA Now

After more than twenty years, is there any evidence of a positive learnership impact on youth in South Africa?

The Learnership Impact on Youth in South Africa

Understanding the learnership impact on the labour market outcomes for young people in South Africa is crucial.

In this blog post, we dig further into a dataset that tracks individuals aged between 20 and 24 to understand the learnership impact on them.

Let’s see if the researchers found any impacts from learnerships on employment and educational transitions.

learnership impact on youth

Section 4: The Learnership Impact on Young People

This is Part 3, a summary of section 4 of the research paper we are busy discussing.

“The Success of Learnerships? Lessons from South Africa’s Training and Education Programme,” by Neil Rankin, Gareth Roberts, and Volker Schöer.

To Measure Learnership Impact on Youth Look at Data Insights

The study used the Labour Market Entry Survey (LMES) conducted between 2009 and 2012.

It focused on African individuals in urban and rural areas of Johannesburg, Durban, and Polokwane.

The researchers compare the outcomes of learnership participants with those who did not engage in learnerships.

Terms Used in the Study:

  1. Learnership Program: A structured learning program that combines theoretical education with practical work experience.
  2. Enrollment and Completion: Refers to the process of joining and finishing a learnership program.
  3. Scaled by the Number of Young People: Adjusting the figures proportionally to represent the entire youth population.
  4. Aggregate Level: The overall or total level when combining different elements.
  5. Inherent Bias in the Sample: A tendency for the surveyed individuals to disproportionately represent those more likely to participate in learnerships, potentially skewing the results.
  6. Small Sample Sizes: The limited number of participants in the study, which can lead to overestimation when extrapolating to the broader population.
  7. HSRC Study: Refers to a previous study conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council.
  8. Surpass: Exceed or go beyond; in this context, the current estimates are higher than those from the Visser and Kruss study.

Learnership Impact Descriptive Statistics:

Analysis of a sample from 2011 and 2012 revealed that the average age of participants was 24 and 25.

Furthermore, nearly 60% were female and over 70% had completed secondary school.

Approximately one-third of the sample was employed.

Learnership Impact on Participation:

Despite the widespread reach of learnership programs, only 2.5% of the sample enrolled and completed learnerships between 2009 and 2011.

Scaling these figures to the youth population in South Africa suggests that 50,000–200,000 young people complete learnerships annually.

do learnerships succeed

Characteristics Associated with Learnership Participation:

The paper explores whether learnership participants differ in terms of age, gender, and education.

The analysis indicates that learnership participants share similar demographic characteristics with the general population, challenging previous assumptions.

But while participation rates may seem low, learnerships play a significant role in shaping the future of young individuals in South Africa.

The nuanced insights in the study contribute to a deeper understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with learnerships for the youth.

Factors Influencing Learnership Participation: Insights from the Data

By looking at the dynamics of learnership participation, the research aimed to uncover the characteristics associated with individuals on learnerships.

Researchers wanted to determine whether there are any differences between those who participate in learnerships and those who do not.

Characteristics and Learnerships:

The study examines whether individuals enrolled in learnerships differ in terms of age, gender, and education.

Participants with a matric (completed grade 12) show a higher likelihood of participating in and completing a learnership compared to those without secondary school completion.

This relationship persists despite the theoretical availability of learnerships to those with less than grade 12, as indicated in the research.

how do learnerships help unemployed youth article

Educational Impact on Learnership Participation:

A robust finding is that individuals with matric are 2.3 to 5.8 percentage points more likely to participate in learnerships.

This contradicts the belief that learnerships are predominantly accessible to those with lower educational qualifications.

Possible explanations for the disparity are:

  • changes in enrolment trends,
  • geographical concentration of certain learnership types,
  • or underreporting of specific learnerships.

Difficulties With Learnership Impact Explanations:

The study acknowledges challenges in defining the precise reasons for the observed differences.

Factors such as changes in enrolment patterns, geographical disparities, and reporting biases may contribute to the observed educational trends in learnership participation.

What is The Learnership Impact on Youth in SA?

Evaluating the Impact of Learnerships on Employment and Job Satisfaction

This section looks at the effectiveness of learnerships in enhancing employment prospects for young individuals.

It also explores the outcomes in the labour market.

The central question is whether individuals who completed learnerships are more likely to secure employment and experience positive labor market outcomes.

Learnership Impact on Youth: The Results:

  • There’s a 4-5 percentage point increase in employment probability in 2011, but these estimates lack significance at the 10% level.
  • By 2012, one year after completing learnerships, individuals show no increased likelihood of being in wage employment compared to others.

Job Satisfaction and Additional Outcomes:

  • There is a difference in employment probabilities between learnership participants and others.
  • Job satisfaction is positively correlated with learnership completion, although this relationship weakens over time.
  • No evidence supports the idea that learnerships increase the likelihood of promotions.
  • Some evidence suggests that learnership completers may have had higher earnings in 201. However this result is not significantly different from zero.
do learnerships succeed?

Measuring Learnership Impact on Youth in SA

So the research found that while gender and age do not seem to significantly affect learnership participation, their findings underscore the crucial role of education, particularly matric completion.

The data suggests that learnerships may not be reaching those with lower educational qualifications, potentially missing an opportunity to provide intervention where it is most needed.

So learnerships show short-term benefits, such as increased employment probabilities and job satisfaction.

But their impact diminishes over time.

The study suggests that learnerships may not significantly contribute to long-term employment success or promotion opportunities.

These findings provide valuable insights into the relative short-term advantages of learnerships from an individual’s perspective.


Read the full learnership impact research paper at this link.

Leonie Hall

Leonie Hall, disruptive thinker and dynamic strategist, is an expert in education, development, quality management and innovation. She has spoken at local and international conferences; and currently works as an independent consultant and content developer. Contact Leonie for a consultation.

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