Skills development is one of the major requirements of the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard, and learnerships make up a significant part of skills development. However, not all businesses have the capacity to take on sufficient learners to meet their obligations. Such was the case with a client of Training Force, who had the funding but no available roles. Training Force then partnered with LESCO, a manufacturer and distributor of a wide range of innovative electrical products and accessories for the South African domestic market, who could take on learners, but not the funding. This created a mutually beneficial three-way arrangement that gave the learners valuable work experience while earning an income, and at the same time delivered B-BBEE points for both LESCO and the client.
A client approached Training Force to assist with finding a host site for learners to complete their learnership, which itself is not an unusual situation. However, as this was a technical learnership there was also a specific requirement for the host site to meet the criteria stipulated by the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA), the sector education and training authority encompassing manufacturing, engineering, and related services. This meant that the host needed to not only be in the right industry but also have the appropriate accreditations to take on the learners.
“merSETA has stringent requirements, which made this placement quite a challenge. LESCO went above and beyond the call of duty to comply, navigating all the obstacles, hurdles and red tape required for their certification. Throughout the process, they were willing to adjust and amend to provide for the learners, including several disabled learners who needed specific accommodations. They went out of their way to make this work and took on a big task in embracing the true spirit of B-BBEE,” says Yogini Sigamoney, Project Manager for Learnerships at Training Force.
The process and the benefits
Training Force began the recruitment process after LESCO was briefed on their requirements, and potential candidates were interviewed by both parties to ensure the correct fit.
“One of LESCO’s goals is to empower previously disadvantaged people, and learnerships provide a good access point to offer the youth an opportunity to be exposed to the manufacturing environment. Training Force is a reputable company, and we were happy to work with them on this project. They assisted us in sourcing learners to meet our specifications, namely persons living with disabilities, aged between 20 and 29 years and living within a 5km radius of our factory,” explains Teboho Moloi, Cost & Procurement Manager at LESCO.
The partnership with Training Force and its client ensured that LESCO had the learners they needed, while Training Force took on the task of implementing, monitoring, and closing off the programme, as well as providing feedback to both parties. At the end of the year-long learnership, participants received a National Qualification Framework (NQF) Level 1 in manufacturing and engineering, as well as invaluable work experience and skills and fixed-term contracts of employment at LESCO.
“The project involved a great deal of coordination between LESCO and Training Force, including onboarding, training, managing attendance, leave and incentivising performance. We had a few teething problems at the start but worked these out to implement better ways of management and communication. We also introduced several different motivational factors to help learners reach targets,” says Moloi.
“LESCO’s willingness to adapt and change was instrumental to the success of this programme, and their door was always open. This was a learning experience for us, and it has helped tremendously in facilitating this kind of arrangement going forward,” Sigamoney concludes.