The Benefits of Offering Work Integrated Learning Programmes

Work Integrated Learning (WIL), in the form of learnerships, in-service training, placements and apprenticeships have been recognised as a key strategy for ensuring students are exposed to authentic learning experiences, that offer the opportunity for them to apply theoretical concepts to practice based tasks.

For students, WIL programmes increase their work readiness and employability, but did you know, as an employer you too could benefit from offering WIL programmes in your company?

Some of the benefits of offering WIL programmes include:

· The opportunity to improve your competitiveness.

Offering WIL enables you to earn BBBEE scorecard points under the Skills Development category. Earning the required 20 points under the Skills Development category, which measures the effort your company, has made towards training and developing the skill and work competencies of black employees can in turn improve your BBBEE level an increase your ability to bid for government and public enterprise tender. In order to avoid a punitive BBBEE level drop, as an employer you are required to meet the following Skills Development element criteria:

  • Skills development Expenditure on any programme in the Learning Programme Matrix (found as Annexure in BBBEE Act) for black people - 8 points or 6% of annual leviable payroll for QSE companies and 3% for Generic companies
  • Skills development Expenditure on any programme in the Learning Programme Matrix (found as Annexure in BBBEE Act) for black employees with disabilities - 4 points or 0.3%
  • Number of black people participating in learnerships, apprenticeships or internships as - 4 points or 2.5%
  • Number of unemployed black people participating in learnerships, apprenticeships or internships as - 4 points or 2.5%
  • Number of black people absorbed by the company after the learnership - 5 points or 100%

To qualify for the abovementioned points, you are required to develop and submit a Workplace Skills Plan to the relevant Sectoral Education and Training Authority.

· The chance to achieve Employment Equity objectives.

Implementing WIL your company enables you to meet your Employment Equity targets as these programmes give previously disadvantaged employees the opportunity to improve their work-related competencies and obtain their qualifications, such as in the case where in-service training is needed to complete a qualification like as required under NATED programmes.

· Receive Sectoral Education and Training Authorities (SETA) grant funding

As a company offering WIL programmes, you can become eligible to receive grant funding from SETAs, to cover the costs of hiring a candidate under a WIL programme. All SETAs provide companies that offer WIL programmes grants that range from a R4 000 - R 40 000 per candidate to be used to cover the stipends of the candidates.

NB! The grants are subject to availability of funds and are offered on a first come first served basis, therefore it is important to submit your grant application to the relevant SETA as early as possible to increase the chances of receiving the grant.

· Claim tax deductions on taxable income

In addition to being eligible to receive, grant funding from SETAs, as an employer you can also claim tax deductions for each student hired under a WIL programme. Once you have entered into a WIL agreement with a candidate and have registered the agreement with the relevant SETA, you are eligible to deduct 70%o the annual wages paid to the learner (if he/she is already employed by you) or 100% of the allowance paid to an unemployed learner during the relevant year of assessment. Once the programme has been completed, as an employer you are again eligible to claim up to 100% of the annual wage or allowance paid to an employee or learner.

NB! For further details on the tax benefits that come with offering WIL programmes refer to the Government Gazette No.23 709 published 5 August 2009, derived from the Taxation Laws Amendment Act No. 30 of 2002.

· Receive a reimbursement of up to 50% on Skills Development Levy

As an employer, you can also qualify for a reimbursement of up to 50% on your SDL spend.

In order to claim for SDL, you will need to firstly register with your relevant SETA. Thereafter, you will need to decide what training would strategically benefit your organisation and your employees. Once you have decided what learnership or training programme you will offer, you will need to structure a training plan.

The training plan must be designed for the relevant SETA training year (please note that the training year is from 1 April each year until 31 March the following year). In addition to the Annual Training Plan, you will need to compile a Workplace Skills Plan (each SETA has its own Workplace Skills Plan template).

· Have a wider pool of employees to hire from

By offering WIL programmes, you subsequently increase your recruitment pool and have a wider pool of appropriately qualified workers that have developed skills that are relevant to your company’s specific work contexts to select from.

· Offers an alternative recruitment pathway

Offering WIL programmes allows you the opportunity to preview a candidate’s work performance without having to make a long-term commitment to employ them.

· Develop existing employees leadership qualities

Introducing WIL programmes into your company offers existing employees the opportunity to learn valuable mentoring and management skills, thereby adding to their professional development.