Scoring big with learnerships

Companies and people with disabilities can greatly benefit from learnerships as Rustim Ariefdien points out

Of all the elements that comprise the BBBEE Scorecard, skills development is one of

the more expensive as many companies view it as an expense rather than an investment. Businesses are required to spend 3,5 percent of their payroll on developing the skills of employees to gain six points on their BBBEE scorecard.

If 0,3 percent is spent on disability skills development, they earn four points from a possible total of 25 points in the category. These disability points are probably the most sought- after disability related BBBEE points. If they do learnerships, apprenticeships and/or internships they can earn an additional six points.

Thus, some companies focus mainly on learnerships where they can earn the above mentioned 16 points plus an additional five points when the learner is absorbed permanently into the company after the learnership. This represents 21 of the total 25 points with the other four points allocated for bursaries.

In addition to the BBBEE Scorecard points, companies can benefit from the employee tax incentive and tax allowances from SARS, as well as discretionary grant funding from their respective Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). In many cases the cost of a disability learnership project is covered by their SETAs and the learnership then becomes a tool towards the permanent employment of persons with disabilities.

Implementing learnerships could cost about R80 000 to employers, but they are able to recover about R120 000 back in grants and tax breaks for learners with disabilities. This is a good business case and more and more persons with disabilities are benefiting.


“Many companies view skills development as an expense rather than an investment.”


So, how does a person with a disability, the aspiring employee or entrepreneur, and disability organisations take advantage of these BBBEE Skills Development opportunity. Companies advertise quite widely on social media and some communicate directly with organisations in the disability field.

Companies look for primarily a Grade 9, but very often Grade 12. It is dependent on the learnership. The candidate learner would need to provide a copy of their ID, a certificate from a medical practitioner to prove their disability, and the latest certificate of their education or schooling.

The learnership is typically a 12-month qualification made up of about 30 percent theoretical components and 70 percent practical experience in the workplace. At the end of the qualification, the learner would have acquired the certificate for that particular qualification and a valuable 12 months’ work experience.

The learner can then be employed or seek other learnership opportunities to enhance their skills level and add to their work experience.

When starting a learnership, it is imperative that the learner disclose their disability fully so that they can receive the appropriate reasonable accommodation. Transport is often a challenge and finding the right transport solution is imperative before signing up for a learnership. Being absent, like with being employed, can lead to dismissal and a valuable opportunity lost as another person with a disability could have had the benefit.


Rustim Ariefdien is a disability expert extraordinaire who assists businesses to “let the Ability of disAbility enAble their profitAbility” through BBBEE, skills development, employment equity and socio-economic development. His purpose is the economic empowerment of persons with disability in Africa. As a person with a disability himself, he has extensive experience in the development and empowerment of persons with disability.

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