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This article is taken from the May 2004 Phatlalatsa newsletter


Evaluating the dapartment of labour's learnership programme

In a previous edition, we reported that S&T was commissioned to undertake an evaluation of the Department of Labour's Learnership Programme, a key aspect of the Labour Market Skills Development Programme (LMSDP). The overall objective of the LMSDP is to improve the standard of living and the reduction of poverty through increased employment and the establishment of sustainable small, medium and micro enterprises. The programme seeks to increase levels of knowledge, competencies and flexibility amongst South Africa 's economically active population.

A key component of the evaluation is an assessment of beneficiary perspectives of learnerships. Given the small number of completed learners by mid 2003, it was agreed that a pilot study be undertaken, with the data from the pilot having the following dual purpose and benefit:

  • Firstly, the data provide a significant assessment on the part of beneficiaries of those learnerships that had been completed by mid-July 2003.
  • Secondly, the interview process and the analysis of the data presented allowed for the instruments to be subjected to rigorous testing and scrutiny before the larger baseline survey to be conducted in 2004.

The sample

A total of 100 learners and 37 employers were interviewed during the pilot survey. The demographics of learners who had completed learnerships by mid-July 2003 raise a number of interesting points given the emphasis of the programme on equity and redress. Less than half (44%) the learners were female, while a significant proportion (19%) were white.

Employers were mainly drawn from Gauteng . Even at this early stage of the programme, this distribution does suggest the need for intensive efforts on the part of the Department of Labour and the SETAs to get the message of learnerships broadcast to all parts of the country. What is encouraging is that the size of the employer does not seem to be a real issue in whether they participate or not in the learnership programme.

Overall rating of learnerships

The following table summarises the mean scores (out of 10) by employers and learners on the different components evaluated as well as an overall rating of the programme:

Employers and learners were very positive about their experiences on the learnership programme. The pilot report details extremely positive feedback for the programme (despite the methodological constraints). When asked how, if at all, government could better use its resources to address the skills shortages in the country, almost half of employers felt that government was already doing a good job. The suggestions made related more to strengthening the existing learnership programme and were around the following themes:

  • need for more subsidies/grants;
  • expansion of learnerships;
  • streamlining of administration;
  • monitoring and evaluation.


Selection & recruitment

Theoretical training

On-the-job training

Overall rating













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