Breakthrough in Learnership Accessibility Challenges


Learnerships provide invaluable skills but for many eager candidates, they remain inaccessible as most training venues are predominantly situated in city centres. The daily commute for potential learners who live some distance from these locations, therefore, can pose financial challenges. In an innovative first for the sector, EduPower Skills Academy launched a pilot project whereby they will be forging partnerships with local churches to make life-changing learnerships more accessible. These programmes will bring learnerships to more remote communities and equip youngsters with the tools for long-term career success.

Rajan Naidoo, EduPower’s Managing Director says that to test the concept, the pilot project for this collaboration kicked off six months ago in Molweni, a community close to Hillcrest in Kwazulu-Natal, and the results have been remarkable. “By integrating our learnership model with the church’s existing infrastructure, our learners alternate between classroom training and hands-on contact centre work experience. This approach ensures the development of both theoretical knowledge and practical skills in a single, accessible venue.”

The impact of this ground-breaking partnership is evident through the transformative experiences of individuals such as Phumelele Nyawose. Raised by her grandparents in Molweni while her mother works in Gauteng, Phumelele refused to accept the limited opportunities within her community.

“I first found out about EduPower and the learnerships it offers in 2021. I applied and was called to the Mount Edgecombe campus as part of the application process, but I had to ask my mother and grandparents for money so I could go,” Phumelele explains. “After my interview and test, I was told if I was successful, I would get a call to sign a contract but that never materialised.”

Although disheartened, Phumelele did not give up on her learnership dreams. When she learned that EduPower was interviewing candidates for learnerships it would be hosting in Molweni, she jumped at the opportunity.

“The application process was a bit easier as it was closer to home but when you are unemployed, everything costs money that you don’t have. Printing the requested application documents was expensive and we also had to use public transport to get to Watercrest Mall to do this,” Phumelele adds.

Her efforts paid off, though, and she was thrilled when she was among a small group of learners accepted for the Molweni programme. Marking the beginning of a new chapter in her life, the induction process was a pivotal moment for Phumelele and she hasn’t looked back.

“When I started this learnership, I was shy and didn’t know how to talk to people,” she shares. “Now, we are calling clients and asking them about insurance. I can talk to anyone, and it is an exhilarating experience!” 

Phumelele says that while communication training has equipped her with the confidence to interact effectively in a contact centre environment, she has also already gained other invaluable skills. In fact, her facilitator, Pastor Sli, continues to enable both her personal and professional development.

“I cannot believe how much I have learned, especially around time management, communication and finances,” she adds. “One of our first lessons was about budgeting and Pastor Sli told us that you don’t buy anything unless it is in your budget or else you start using money you don’t have. Now I know how to save and it’s very exciting.”

Phumelele’s journey with Edupower showcases the transformative impact that learnerships can have in advancing personal growth, besides skills acquisition. Certainly, her experience illustrates how the Academy’s pioneering partnerships with local churches have the potential to transform the lives of many more youngsters in semi-rural areas.

The final word goes to Naidoo who highlights the fact that EduPower’s pilot project presents a compelling case for businesses wanting to make a positive difference in communities. “Our collaborative learnership model has the potential to take skills development to all young South Africans. By leveraging existing resources and nurturing local talent, we can address our nation’s skills gaps and contribute to the broader goal of inclusive economic growth,” he concludes.