Learnerships and skills development in South Africa: a shift to prioritise the young unemployed
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Much is expected from the new learnership system implemented in South Africa a mere seven years ago as a key component in putting a multi-pronged National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) into operation. The learnership system is expected to foster skills development in the formal economy, as well as assist new entrants into employment. There is a debate as to whether the priority for the system should be to function as a demand-led formal labour market tool to fill the need for critical and scarce skills, or as an employment-creation mechanism and whether it is possible to do both effectively. The research analyses a newly created population database that covers enrolments since the inception of the learnership system. In practice, the learnership system is increasingly prioritizing an employment-creation function, focused on providing skills development for young Africans registered at level 4 or below. Recognizing this shifting profile is an important step for enhancing the effectiveness of the system, whether in terms of funding, focus of programmers, workplace placements or support offered.