Understanding transitional arrangements for qualifications

By Dikeledi Molatoli 

The newly introduced occupational qualifications by the Quality Council for Trades Occupations (QCTO) has created a lot of anxiety and panic.

These changes happened in line with the new regulations in the Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act No. 97 of 1998), as amended and gazetted through various regulation amendments, the latest being the Trade Test Regulations introduced on 8 May 2015, and the subsequent policy formulations and strategies introduced by the Department of Higher Education and Training, to bring about a shift towards creating a strong link between training and skills development as well as work and enterprise development.

Government has introduced a number of initiatives and incentives for training providers and employers, to try and mitigate and meet the major challenge of unemployment facing millions of young South Africans.

Transition from NQF qualifications to occupational qualifications

QCTO has provided guidelines on how the transition from NQF qualifications should and will be addressed.

Firstly, the old, or what was called ‘historically registered qualifications’, will be replaced by ‘occupational qualifications’ registered on the Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework (OQSF).

What needs to be done by affected parties

Skills development providers (SDPs), plumbers, and artisans have been in a state of panic due to the fear that the ‘old qualifications’ are no longer recognised. Some employers have started to not recognise these qualifications.

While the non-recognition may be the ultimate impending situation resulting from the new policy framework, it is however important to note that this should not be an automatic assumption, since there are urgent steps that should be taken for consideration by both the people who qualified under the old dispensation, and the SDPs themselves, to meet the requirements of the new regulations. Until such steps and verification are made by the QCTO, it would be unwise to work on assumptions.

Qualifications with end date 31 March 2018 and those with end date 30 June 2018

The following facts are applicable:

  • Qualifications reaching their end date will be deactivated on the SAQA system.
  • Enrolments can still happen, though, until what is called a ‘teach-out process’ has been reached according to the (N + 2) period, with the ‘N’ calculated as the duration of the qualification in terms of the number of years of the qualification.
  • SDPs currently accredited for registered qualifications with end dates of 31 March 2018 and 31 June 2018 may, however, still enrol students up to 3 March 2019 and 31 June 2019, respectively (as per last date of enrolment).

Historically registered qualifications on the OQSF with student enrolments that have not been replaced by occupational qualifications by 31 March 2019 and 31 June 2019, will be prioritised for re-alignment and/or extension of the registration date.

Extension will only be granted in exceptional cases once the quality assurance partner has requested this in writing from the QCTO.

Guidance offered

Guidance for SDPs that are offering skills programmes and single unit standards:

  • Single unit standards or skills programmes will be replaced by occupational part qualifications.
  • If such part qualifications are not in place by June 2019, these unit standard registrations will be extended.
  • However, the historically registered qualifications may not be offered if already replaced by an occupational qualification — only the relevant unit standard or skills programmes for which there are students enrolled may be offered.

Implications for SDPs’ accreditation

  • Where a registered occupational qualification exists, the SDP’s accreditation for the historically registered qualification on the OQSF will end with the “last date for achievement” to allow for teach-out.
  • This will mean that SDPs will have to apply for accreditation of the new occupational qualifications with the QCTO as soon as such qualifications are registered.
  • The SDP accreditation for the unit standards (not linked to a full qualification) and skills programmes (combination of unit standards) will remain valid until the “last date for achievement” of the full qualification or the stand-alone unit standard, provided there are no occupational part qualifications registered.
  • In the case of trades, where an occupational qualification has been registered, SDP accreditation will not be extended beyond the expiry date of the provider’s accreditation. SDPs will have to apply for accreditation with the QCTO for the new occupational qualifications.
  • The QCTO will deal with all applications from SDPs for both historical qualifications registered on the OQSF post 30 June 2018, and occupational qualifications registered on the OQSF.

Issues relating to final summative assessment

Historically registered full qualifications on the OQSF that have been extended post June 2018, must include a compulsory final summative assessment (FSA) as from November 2018, in order for competent students to be certificated.

This does not replace the final verification moderation done by the quality assurance partner — it must be seen as an additional requirement for the certification of students.

Guidelines and templates are issued for all these processes. Contact the QCTO officials for assistance on +27 (0) 11 049 4386.

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