HR INTERNSHIP PROGRAMMES: A challenge with remuneration by Kgomotso Mopalami

WORKFORCE PLANNING: A Standard for Proliferating Organisations by Kgomotso Mopalami
August 10, 2018
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August 22, 2018

Internship programmes are aimed at developing the “undergraduates” to gain relevant experience.  HR internship is pivotal in that the exposure that the incumbent receives is almost equivalent to what a full time HR professional is exposed to. This is a very crutial milestone as it implies that the intern is more than ready to join the industry and in a state of performing HR duties optimally.  The SABPP took a stance in encouraging employers to at least absorb one intern to develop young people for the future of South Africa, thus contributing to the National Skills Development.  To make this happen, the SETA’s have allocated funds for internship programmes.  There is therefore no excuse to impart knowledge.

Below are the guidelines for allocation of tasks and responsibilities during internship as guided by SABPP:

The internship should be structured to expose the intern to:

  • Enough range of experiences that he /she can apprec
    iate the scope of the occupation or profession in which he/she hopes to develop;
  • Typical career paths within the relevant occupation or profession;
  • Tasks that can be safely completed so that performance standards can be developed;
  • A diversity of tasks/projects that give the intern the opportunity to demonstrate personal strengths and attributes such as problem-solving, teamwork, attention to detail, customer orientation and so on.  Certainly, menial tasks such as filing can be allocated, but should not be full-time and should have a specific purpose in mind.
  • A detailed work programme should be in writing, covering the full period of the internship. It is not sufficient to specify, for example, “2 weeks job shadowing in xx department”. In this example, the type of exposures for the job shadowing and the objectives should be specified. The work programme could be developed using the above list of bullet points as the headings against which specific assignments are allocated. The work programme will need to be flexible as well, to allow for orgnisational issues, new projects that come up, or changes in career intentions of the intern.


It is something of the past were an intern will be given tasks such as preparing documentation, managing the director’s diary, arranging for interviews or perhaps handling the manager’s telephone calls. With the National HR Standards in place, there is much more to do to ensure that the intern is ready for work after the programme is completed.  There is therefore a need for a well-designed internship programme that is aligned with the Standards.

Considering the role that the interns play within the oganisations, now the question arises as to whether oganisations comply with the minimum wages when they reimburse the learners; are managers considerate of the individual’s needs; are they transparent during interviews or when they absorb such individuals? Although salaries range from one employer to the other or from sector to sector, it is crutial that the interns be remunerated accordingly.

Recently In South Africa, the minimum wage is set and it is no exception for learnership (  However, there are challenges that are experienced by some interns.  There are still oganisations that do not adhere to minimum wages set or they take advantage of the interns and not reimburse them at all.  As it may, there are also those companies that even pay the interns far exceedingly to what they deserve.  Such disparities are a concern in the HR environment, where it is expected that good practices and ethical conduct should be the order of the day. The good practice entails oganisations paying the learners over and above the set minimum wage and nothing less.

In conclusion, it is important that interns should undergo a more intensive process aimed at equipping them with the skills that meet the workforce requirements.  Good practices are to be followed and employers need to exercise fairness and be transparent and honest with the interns’ payments.


You can contact Kgomotso Mopalami

on (010) 007 5906


Employers must:

Declare the payments.

Agree with interns during the interview process.

Consider the individual’s needs, thereby negotiating the fair wage.

Not pay less that the set minimum wage for learners.




National Minimum Wage Bill (2017)