An apprenticeship is a technical training programme that gives you an opportunity to practice the practical skills needed to become an artisan for a particular trade.
How does an apprenticeship work?
You have to be at least 15 years of age to legally become an apprentice and have to meet certain physical requirements in terms of medical health or physical fitness that are relevant to the particular trade.
Most apprenticeships require you to have knowledge in subjects like Mathematics, Science, Technical Terminology or Drawing at a Grade 10 level at least, but some programmes and employers will accept you if you have passed Grade 7 Maths and Science or have a Grade 12. If you do not meet the requirements, you can register at the National Artisan Development Support Centre for the Generic Trade Preparation Programme, where you can take bridging courses in Mathematics, Engineering Science, Electronics, Computer Skills and any other course relevant to becoming an artisan.
Will you be paid?
As an apprentice, you will receive a stipend for the hours that you work for your employer. The amount you will receive will depend on the trade you are doing the apprenticeship in and your year of training. The wage rates for apprenticeships are determined by the relevant Bargaining Council and are adjusted on a yearly basis.
Who pays for apprenticeship training?
Apprenticeship training can either be paid by the company that employs you as an apprentice or by you. If you complete your apprenticeship programme under an apprenticeship contract, all costs for attending classes and training will be paid for by the employer. Where the employer pays for the training, you will be required to sign a ‘work back’ agreement.
This agreement will require you to work for the employer for a certain period once you have qualified as an artisan. The benefit of participating in an apprenticeship that is paid for by the employer is that you are guaranteed work after you qualify.
You will be required to pay all the costs for your training if you enrol for an apprenticeship programme at a TVET college or other training institution that only offers the theoretical component of trade qualification. Here, you might find an employer who is willing to employ you as an apprentice but is unwilling or unable to pay for the training courses that you need to complete. In such a case, you will have to find funding to pay for the training. The benefit of this is that you will not have to sign a ‘work back’ agreement, so once you become a qualified artisan, you are free to work anywhere or start your own business.
Where can you find opportunities for apprenticeships?
You are responsible for researching companies that offer apprenticeships in the trade that you want to study or are studying. Most employers that provide apprenticeships usually advertise the opportunities available on their websites, job portals or the newspaper. You can go to the website of the different companies and look for opportunities there or look for opportunities in the newspapers or job portal sites like PuffandPass, Indeed or CareersPortal . You can also search for opportunities through the following:
The National Artisan Development Support Centre (NADSC). The NADSC coordinates the placement for engineering learners from TVET colleges at accredited workplaces. To find out the opportunities available visit their website.
Sectoral Education and Training Authorities. Check the website of your relevant SETA for information on available opportunities.
Check the websites of national/provincial departments, municipalities and state-owned enterprises for opportunities
You can also register with the Department of Labour as a work-seeker. Your details will be captured on the job-matching Employment Services System of South Africa, and you will be contacted when a position that you meet the criteria for becomes available. You can also seek assistance from the career counsellors are labour centres if you are unsure of what apprenticeship opportunities you should take.