IT and HR Managers: 7 Things to Do to get the Most out of your IT Learnership

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IT and HR Managers: 7 Things to Do to get the Most out of your IT Learnership

By Kim Palmer, Founder & Director of On The Ball CollegeWeTrainICT and Women in ICT Founder

I would like to raise the importance of learnership programmes: to benefit both the organisation and today’s youth by making them more employable. As a thought leader in ICT and skills development, I believe that learnership programmes are a fantastic opportunity for South Africa’s unemployed youth because they provide unemployed young adults the work experience and skills that make them employable in a variety of sectors.

In my experience, organisations in South Africa can benefit from learnerships in the following way:

  • Learners become accustomed to the organisation’s systems and operations from the get-go.
  • Employees who start in a company with a learnership are more likely to remain loyal to the organisation. This reduces employee turn-over and can help to facilitate a strong company culture.
  • Learnership programmes carry a tax incentive.
  • Organisations can claim costs from the WSP (Workplace Skills Plan).
  • Learnership programmes increase a company or organisation’s BBBEE points.
  • Learnerships provide ICT teams with contingency caused by turnover.
  • Scarce skills or future required skills can be built through learnerships.

How to get the most out of an IT learnership programme

1) Choose the Best ETD Provider

At On The Ball College we find the easiest way for you to make the most of your learnership by choosing the right ETD (Education, Training and Development) provider. The right ETD provider will prepare the learner to be job-ready from the consummation of his or her enrollment in the learnership programme.

This is what you should prioritise when selecting an ETD provider to get the most out of your organisation’s learnership programme:

  • Accredited – Are they accredited with MICT SETA?
  • Reputable – Are they a reputable ETD provider? Do they have testimonials?
  • Placements – What is their placement rate?
  • Support services – Do they care about their learners and have adequate support structures and policies in place?
  • Updated curriculum – Is the curriculum in line with industry requirements and IT standards?
  • Bridging courses – Do they ensure that learners meet the requirements?
  • Mentoring and coaching program – Do they assist learners in developing employable and life-based skills?
  • Qualified teachers – Does the faculty have relevant industry experience and qualifications?
  • Practical experience – Do they nurture the learner for the classroom and work environment?
  • Interview preparation – Do they prepare learners for the interview process?
  • Feedback – Does the ETD provider ask for feedback regularly and consistently?
  • Work-readiness and soft skills training – Do they integrate this into the working environment.

These points can help your organisation in selecting a reputable and trustworthy ETD provider which will allow your organisation to get the most out of your IT learnership programme.

2) Teach the Platform your Business Uses

Get the most out of your IT learnerships by choosing a relevant platform. Selecting ICT learnerships that have the scarce skills needed in your business would add more value and would lead to better absorption of the learners into your organisation.

It is essential to teach your learners to work with the platforms and software that your organisation or business uses. This will allow your learners to become familiar with your platforms and work more efficiently in the work space.

By ensuring that your learners are acquainted with the software and programmes that you use in your organisation, you are not only equipping them with the skills that they need to work efficiently, but also saving your business the time and effort that it would take to onboard them in the future.

3) Conduct a Culture Test

Ensuring that a culture fit test is concluded prior during recruitment would ensure the correct learners are selected for your company, this would also lead to better of the learners into your organisation.

4) Update the Curriculum

In order to get the most out of your IT learnerships, I recommend that your organisation review the scarce skills needed by the team and frequently update the curriculum of its learnership programme. This will ensure IT learners are better equipped to work for your business and be employable within the ICT sector.

At OTBC we take great care in listening to feedback about our curriculum to ensure that IT learners are receiving the required skills that will help to benefit your business. This allows IT learners to complete their training with a relevant vendor-specific industry qualification.

5) Create a Mentorship Programme

Mentorship programmes that are incorporated simultaneously with IT learnerships are another incredible way to make the most out of your organisation’s learnership programme.

It is imperative that your learners feel nurtured and mentored for the sake of their personal well-being and so that they can grow their valuable skills with input and guidance from experienced mentors in their field or industry.

At OTBC, mentorships serve to prepare learners for a more seamless transition from the classroom to a hands-on work environment, and we believe that it benefits ICT learners. learners who are then able to add more value to their department or team.

A good mentor will help to prepare your ICT learners for interviews, get them acquainted with the employment process and can equip them with skills and theory that can only come from direct experience in the ICT industry.

It is important to remember that IT learners are not experts, and that most of them have little to no experience in the industry. I strongly believe that mentorship programmes are essential to further developing their skills and approach within the work environment.

6) Make use of Practical Learning and Work Placement

Another key point for IT learnerships is that your organisation makes use of practical learning and work placements.

Practical learning prepares IT learners for the real-world tasks that they will have to perform every day. Organisations have missed a valuable opportunity if their IT learners are only familiar with the theory of installing software and troubleshooting, for example, as opposed to having had additional practical experience.

Likewise, work placement is also essential when getting the most out of your IT learnership. At OTBC, we use work placement to adequately prepare students for the real world. These placements help students to develop and grow in order to perform more efficiently within the work environment.

7) Have a Plan to Absorb Learners

Lastly,  and this is where I believe most businesses fail to maximise their IT learnerships, they have no absorption plans in place.

Conducting an IT learnership without an absorption plan in place is a waste of both the investment your organisation has made in training and mentoring the candidate as well as a loss of the skills and acquaintance of that learner.

Your organisation needs to have a definitive plan in place to transition its IT learners into experienced and valuable team members.

One of the biggest advantages of IT learnership programmes is to train and develop IT learners into business assets. As an organisation that is offering learnerships to unemployed youth, you have the incredible opportunity to help develop and select skills that are beneficial to your business.
At On The Ball College, we strive to grow and develop the workforce of the organisations that partner with us by facilitating IT learnerships that will have a positive impact.

About Kim Palmer

Kim Palmer is the award-winning founder of On The Ball College and WeTrainICT and the newly launched Learn2Boom online training portal. The Ball College is accredited through MICT Seta and training partners Microsoft, Oracle, CertiPort and Pearson VUE Prometric, and gives teenagers and young adults from underprivileged backgrounds the opportunity to study critically needed IT skills. 

Kim Palmer is also the chairman of On The Ball Foundation and founder of the well-known and fast-growing Women in ICT annual conference.

Kim, who has a background in IT, started her first computer business at the age of 19 and seven years later went on to establish On The Ball College. Kim volunteered as a mentor at the Alan Gray Foundation, provided training at the Haven Night Shelters and was involved in various HIV/Aids awareness projects. She continues to be involved in youth initiatives and uplifting the community.

Kim Palmer works tirelessly to inspire her students to believe in themselves by giving them the tools to create a life they never thought possible. “You can only dream about what you have been exposed to. We need to educate and inspire our youth so that they understand that IT and technology are career options. I want our youth to dream big and in turn, those creative ideas will become a reality in our country…it did for me.”