Skilled unqualified plumbers with at least three years of experience in the industry can get their qualification through a QCTO Accredited ARPL programme.

Prostooleh |

Prostooleh |

The Artisian’s Recognition of Prior Learning Programme (ARPL), which is available through IOPSA, exists to bridge the gap between those with the experience in plumbing work and an official, recognised plumbing qualification. The programme exists to address the discrepancy between experience and qualification that exists within South Africa today.

ARPL is open to all plumbers who have the experience in the industry and wish to gain a plumbing qualification. The qualification is accredited with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). Applicants must have a minimum of three years working within the industry and have achieved 9th grade at school. If they meet these criteria, they will be assessed, and their skills and knowledge level determined. The individual will then be sent for training to fill the shortcomings in order to match the required skills level needed to allow them to be trade tested.

The programme addresses any skills gaps that might exist. If the plumber is proficient in installing geysers, but hasn’t had much experience with fitting kitchens, that would be addressed under training.

The length of training depends on the level of knowledge, skills and experience the individual needs to acquire. Some plumbers, after being assessed, are referred to preparations for their trade tests. Others undergo extensive training before they get to that point.

Individuals are referred to an accredited, reputable and participating training facility in order to take part in the programme.

CETA and EWSETA have both established funded training programmes for employed and unemployed people to achieve their qualifications, subject to the entry requirements.

The last survey conducted in 2022 showed that out of 126 000 people who identified themselves as plumbers, only 16 000 were qualified. Those who are unqualified may lack essential skills, which means that they are limited in the work they are able to do and may provide lower quality work due to this lack of skills. These unqualified plumbers are not aware of the SA National Standards and Regulations to which plumbing installations and materials need to comply to.

This ultimately impacts the consumer as inferior workmanship, and the use of non-approved products and materials can lead to serious property damage and potential serious health and safety risks to the consumer.  An IOPSA survey conducted in 2022 revealed that plumbing installations in 725 properties in South Africa were 70%–80% non-compliant.

Proper training and qualifications are enormously important. Health and safety aspects are tantamount to not just the consumer, but to the plumber performing the installation. Without adequate health and safety, and compliant installations as well as materials and products, the ultimate price the public pay is poor water quality and sanitation that may lead to disease, and in serious cases, could be fatal.

For more information on how to register for an ARPL programme, send an email with your CV to or call +27 (0) 11 454 0025.