The Skills Development Act describes skills programmes as “programmes that are occupationally based and, when completed, will constitute a credit towards a qualification registered in terms of the NQF”.
Skills programmes overlap with learnerships in that:
• they both aim to develop skills and competencies; •
• they are both required to be credited on the NQF; and
• they access funding from the same sources.
Skills programmes differ from learnerships in some important ways:
• They are smaller in size than learnerships (i.e. a learner can learn an individual piece of work – possibly resulting in a single unit standard – rather than have to take on an entire qualification);
• They emphasize the skills aspect (training) of the learnership, rather than the education aspect. The underpinning knowledge is fully integrated in the outcomes, however.
Skills programmes can be made up in a variety of ways. Some combinations of components can become learnerships while others remain a set of skills (or unit standards). They typically comprise the following:
• A selection of unit standards that are systematically planned to enable the learner to quickly access income-generating activities. This option emphasises skills and underpinning knowledge rather than general education components.
• A selection of a group of standards that lead to a learnership, and consequently a qualification. However, the groups of standards should also be seen as ‘complete’ entities in themselves.
• Unit standards that can be chosen in combination with any other general education unit standards, and will form a full qualification, but not necessarily a learnership.