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If interns took over

Kristy Jooste, journalist at Cape Business News. Kristy Jooste, journalist at Cape Business News.

We’ve all had to do it. “Good morning, Mr Bossman. Sorry I’m late. The trains were delayed again and – Yes, sir? Two sugars? Three beans, right? Oh? There’s a pile of crap waiting for me on my desk? Thank you, sir.”

Interning: An unfortunate, but required undertaking that the 20+ have to do. When someone hears the word “internship” they immediately think “gritty work”, and while it is true, believe it or not – some bossmen are actually looking to tutor you and help you excel. But we’ll get to that later. I myself am a (remunerated) intern for CBN, and although I won’t suck-up and sing praises for them on the back of their newspaper, this internship is definitely the better of the bunch.

Most businesses would have the perception of an internship to be costly and with no real benefits to the company. But alas, I have here an extract taken from i-Fundi, a training facility:

Many companies trading today aren’t aware of the benefits of learnerships or even that such skills and development programs go all the way back to 1962. The aim of such initiatives has always been to bridge the barrier to opportunities that the unemployed experience due to skills shortages. Learnerships come with a host incentives and benefits, the most lucrative being SARS tax breaks. SARS makes provision for companies registered for learnerships to get tax rebates of up to R60,000 per individual that stays for their full internship, irrespective of whether such a learner actually goes on to work full-time or otherwise. Such tax returns are sufficient in themselves to cover the costs of hosting a learner from salaries. Refer to the extract from Section 12H into the Income Tax Act no. 58 of 1962 below.

The tax breaks offered to employers are the following: In respect of learner who is not employed with the employer at the time of entering into the learnership:

  • Upon entering into a registered learnership agreement, a deduction from income equal to the lesser of R30 000 or the annual equivalent of the remuneration of the learner; and
  • Upon completion of the registered learnership agreement, a deduction from income equals to the lesser of R30,000 or the annual equivalent of the remuneration of the learner.

In respect of learner who is employed with the employer at the time of entering into the learnership

  • Upon entering into a registered learnership agreement, a deduction from income equal to the lesser of R30,000 or the annual equivalent of the remuneration of the learner; and
  • Upon completion of the registered learnership agreement a deduction from income equals to the lesser of R30,000 or the annual equivalent of the remuneration of the learner.

Contracts of apprenticeship registered in terms of section 18 of the Manpower Training Act no. 56 of 1981 also qualify as registered learnership agreements.

I hope that takes the deterrence out of you, as an employer, if not for a second to explain to me why you have that discouragement. Is it because of those few previous interns that did nothing but drink your coffee and use your free wifi? Is it because you have whisperings in your ear complaining about Generation Y. The young generation that are dreamers, only want to do the fun work, don’t know how to work diligently and properly. They need too much guidance and you just don’t have the time for that. Right? You’re busy dealingwith things bosses need to deal with. Most employees or interns starting at the bottom of the company, are aiming to one day become bosses themselves.

But let’s imagine that happened…right now. Let’s say the – uh – deep-rooted part of the company suddenly left. Quit. Died. Found better things to do. And every company in South Africa was left to be run by interns. I proposed this situation to a friend and fellow intern and he reckoned that the first two months would be considered a ripe pile of strife. But come the third month, “We’d be fine. YouTube and Google would teach us what we don’t yet know, and we’d learn onthe-go while keeping our customers happy.”

I would add that we would hold seminars with the help of YouTube and Google to train, prepare, hire, and position the masses into the right job. Not only will they be happy to be able to work freely, throw out suggestions left, right and centre without being glared into silence, and work together with fellow colleagues instead of being secluded; but the salary will help put that smile on their faces every morning. Revolution, baby. This is, ofcourse, a baseless theory but isn’t this why companies are turning to younger, diversified and open-minded thinkers? Pay your interns, bosses. You can’t possibly expect them to sit 9-5 in an office and slave away, while enjoying themselves and taking in every new piece of information they learn. You can’t possibly expect them to want to stay for those three months, which will inevitably be prolonged to another three months – unpaid. Don’t keep us back, glued to the seat for fear that we will be dismissed for even uttering a suggestion. You’ll be surprised at what’s lurking in our Y heads. Pleasantly surprised.


By: Kristy Jooste

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