Learnerships, Finances and You: Everything You Need to Know
Learnerships are an excellent way of gaining technical experience in your chosen field without the financial strain of a more academic certification. But the question remains: how will you manage your finances during the training? Here are some things to consider as you prepare to start your learnership.
The question of stipends
The first big question is whether you’ll be getting paid at your learnership. While almost no learnerships offer full salaries, you might be offered a “stipend” of anything from R2000 to around R4000. This will depend a lot on the organization and the funds they have available, however the amount is generally expected to cover incidental expenses like transport only.
More technical learnerships where you have increased responsibility may well pay much more than this and you may informally be paid until you’re offered a permanent position. This is an ideal situation, but it’s probably best to go into a learnership situation not expecting any remuneration.
To make sure that you’re not stressing about money during your internship, it may be a good idea to take out a small student loan for the year. Arrange a meeting with an advisor from your bank to discuss the best options for you. The ideal outcome would be for you to complete your learnership with as little debt as possible, but weigh up the pros and cons. Depending on whether you share a home with your parents, what savings you have and whether you’re taking advantage of grants or bursaries, a student loan can be a useful stepping stone during your learnership.
You’ll be learning all kinds of skills during your learnership training, but perhaps one of the most important ones will be learning to manage your money carefully. Though most learnerships are only a year long, you may find finances are very tight during this time. Cut down on unnecessary spending, enquire about second-hand books and materials and consider temporary student accommodation closer to work so you can save money on commuting.
Paying for your training
Do your research thoroughly. Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous private colleges and unaccredited “programmes” that only take money from hopeful students and offer very little in return. Make sure you understand ahead of time what you are expected to pay for your learnership.
The vast majority of learnerships will not expect you to pay any fees, although you may occasionally have to cough up for a uniform, materials or things like parking. Be wary if you’re being asked to pay a lot for “training” courses, events or trips – while it’s perfectly legitimate to pay for tertiary training, this most likely means you are not in fact completing an official learnership.
The biggest appeal of learnerships is that they lighten the financial burden so often associated with advancing your career. Take the time to plan out your goals, draw up a realistic budget and enter into your learnership programme knowing exactly where you’ll stand at the end of it.