subscribe: Posts | Comments

Apprenticeships in SA

Apprenticeships in SA

South Africa is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled tradespeople and therefore graduations from trade apprenticeship programmes are in high demand. A career in trade can offer a secure and well paid future.

An apprenticeship combines workplace and institutional learning in a national qualification. An apprenticeship is based on an agreement between the individual who wants to learn the skill and the employer who needs a skilled worker.

An apprenticeship can last from two to four years, depending on the program. As an apprentice, about 90 per cent of the learner’s time is spent learning practical skills, while being supervised by a qualified tradesperson. The rest is spent learning theoretical and technical aspects of your trade. Over time, the apprenticeship system of training has proven to be one of the world’s most successful ways to learn. (

Apprenticeships are usually limited to technical trades and learners are forced to work out a fixed period of time before they can receive their qualification. Apprenticeships are job orientated, but learners earn a salary while they get an education.

Considering an Apprenticeship? Find out about being an apprentice in SA, both the structure of the programme, and the profile of a potential candidate.
If you have,

  • decided on a defined career path;
  • explored it by participating in work-based learning programs such as job shadowing and internships;
  • Enrolled in related courses (if available at the school);
  • Decided to enter the workforce full-time or part-time;
  • Aptitudes, interests, and work styles matching their career;
  • Experience in related fields (volunteerism or employment);

you might want to consider becoming an apprentice. Although currently in South Africa Leanerships have largely eclipsed apprenticeships, there are some differences.

Here is a brief description of the characteristics of an apprenticeship.

Usually targeted at entry-level employees, apprenticeships are aimed at developing trade-specific skills and consolidating the worker’s ability in that trade. These trades are mostly traditional blue collar trades relevant in a wide variety of sectors, e.g. electricians and machine operators.

A contract is signed between the apprentice and a single employer for the duration of the Apprenticeship, which is typically three to four years. For the duration the apprentice is considered employed and receives their training from their colleges or a specific master tradesman.

Apprentices’ competence is assessed through trade tests conducted by institutions accredited under the Manpower Training Act at the end of the apprenticeship. The certificate awarded upon the successful completion of an apprenticeship is the equivalent of NQF level 4 and enjoys wide national and international recognition in respect of the specific trade. No formal recognition for learning outcomes achieved if apprentices don’t complete the Apprenticeship.

Employment is not guaranteed, although employers take on apprentices with a view to keeping them as permanent employees after successful completion of the Apprenticeship.

Contact the ETQA Department at the respective SETA offices for a list of apprenticeships currently available in your chosen field.

Comments are closed.