While there might be more learnership, SETAs are cracking down on serial leanership hopping
Thus far in 2022 – 2023, there has been a major skill development trend taking place. Various Developmental Funding Institutions (DFIs) have had funding windows available and the SETAs have picked up in learnerships available after the end of COVID-19. Has this created an abundance of opportunity? Or are there potholes that need to be avoided?
In March 2022, the National Skills Fund put out a disability-specific funding window for 1 500 learnerships. This is the first time that a disability- specific funding window was made available. In August, the Unemployment Insurance Fund put out a window as well, with a call for funding which placed an emphasis on disability.
These are two of the biggest DFIs that fund learnerships. In 2020, with the COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns, there was a curtailment of funding from the SETAs with very little made available. In some instances, funding was withdrawn by the SETAs. It is two years later and the SETAs have started funding again. However, they have applied their funding criteria strictly, which has affected NPOs seeking such funds.
These trends seem to be great news for people with disabilities since unemployment is very high and people are resorting to the R350 grant just to survive. People with disabilities must grab these opportunities with both hands and work towards their own empowerment. However, there is another disturbing trend that is going to impede people with disabilities from taking these opportunities in certain instances.
SETAs are slowly improving their systems whereby they are better recording the achievements of learners on learnerships. Before this improvement, learners could easily register for learnerships simultaneously – a practice known as “serial learnership hopping”. Learners who dropped out of a learnership could easily just enter into another, simultaneously in some instances; or a learner could change learnerships because of a higher stipend.
With the SETA’s improved administrative systems, if a learner has not been duly exited out of the programme that they registered on, then that learner is not eligible to be registered onto another learnership.
This has affected those unaware of the change. It left them disempowered since their application for a learnership could be rejected. NPOs in the disability sector could be at risk as well.
If the organisation does not verify that a recruited learner is eligible to be registered on a learnership, it may be too late for them to process a replacement learner by the time the SETA rejects a particular learner. This results in a loss of income for the organisation and the prospective learner that was rejected by the SETA.
I had a client that recruited about 100 learners as candidates to fill about 30 learnership positions only to discover that most of these candidates was already registered by the SETA. To avoid such disappointment, it is important to follow the SETA processes to the tee, and timeously so that all the necessary checks are conducted beforehand.
As stated at the start of this article, the trend of additional learnerships being made available for people with disabilities can be progressive and empowering for some, but there will be those left with big disappointment.