I am frequently contacted and asked the question, how do I get a bursary to become a chef, to attend hotel school?

In this newsletter I hope I can answer some of the questions that you have about bursaries and apprenticeships.

Difference between Apprenticeships and Learnerships

Traditionally, hotels have offered apprenticeships. This means that they employ you as a trainee for a period of time and offer you part-time studies through the hotel, either as a chef or to study hotel management. Attending a Hotel or Chef school part time and working full time.

With the introduction of Learnerships many hotels have opted to run Learnerships. Learnerships are qualifications that the learner completes whilst working for the organisation, much the same as an Apprenticeship but are often one year.


There are no hotels that I know of that offer bursaries. That is, giving you the money to study at a school of your choice or sponsoring you financially to study at a school of your choice.

The main reason for this is that Hotel Management and Cheffing are very hands-on careers, experience in the industry is so important and most hotels would far rather select a person that has experience rather than just a qualification.

What Learnerships and Apprenticeships are out there?

Learnerships are usually very specific to the area of operation for example Food and Beverage Service, Accommodation service (Housekeeping) and Hotel Reception or Chef. They are usually one year qualifications that when qualified you will be able to enter into the industry into a specific job role, for example a Waiter, a Room Attendant or a Receptionist or a Junior Chef. Learnerships are government funded programmes and usually only one year.

Apprenticeships are usually two to three years and due to the length of the programme you will finish and enter into a position in the hotel (if they have one for you once you complete your apprenticeship) at a junior supervisors or junior management role for example as a restaurant supervisor or as a Commis Chef. Apprenticeships are usually funded by the Hotel or jointly funded by yourself and the hotel.

In both instances you will earn a starting salary (minimum wage) whilst you are on the programme.

Some private schools do offer bursaries, if you are looking to study privately you will be able to approach the School and ask them if they offer a bursary.

The bursary institute of SA BISA offers bursaries, you can visit their website here

If you would like to study full time at a public institution such as a Technikon financial assistance is available through, this is not available for private schools. For private study you can approach any of the major banks such as FNB, Standard or ABSA for a student loan but remember you will have to have someone stand surety for you.

Industry experience before you apply for Apprenticeships

Before applying for an Apprenticeship, hotels may require you to have some experience in a similar environment, for example one year as a waiter. Some will even place you in their hotel into a position for a year. This is to ensure that you are completely sure of what you want to do and don’t waste a space on the programme (dropping out before you finish) that someone else could have taken up.

How to find an Apprenticeship or Learnerships

Apprenticeships and Learnerships become available throughout the year in all main centres; this is mainly due to when the government funding is made available at various times of the year. Most hotels that offer apprenticeships do so from the beginning of each year (usually February) so they will start recruiting for students in September or October of the previous year. I therefore recommend that you contact them around August to apply for the following years apprenticeships. Some of the hotels that offer chef and hospitality Apprenticeships are:

Radisson Hotels

Hilton Hotels

Click here

Southern Sun Hotels

Protea Hotels

Vineyard Hotels

Orient Express Hotels

Radisson Hotels

Click here

I have provided an e-mail address for each of these so that you can contact them for more information. I don’t suggest that you telephone the hotels as you will probably not be able to get through to the people dealing with these.

Learnerships are available through:

South African Chefs Association

Department of Tourism (Western Cape)

Department of Tourism (Gauteng)

Ms Desiree Seseane or

Mr Owen Ngxukumesha

Telephone (011) 429-3816/71

Department of Tourism (KZN)

Ms. Nosipho Mbanjwa

Telephone: 033 264 9313

Ms. Siwinile Mjwara

Telephone: 033 264 9334



FET Colleges such as Northlink

You can look up the college nearest to you here

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