What are the essential short courses that businesses run?

In Johannes' discussion on Where do private providers fit in the QCTO, Linzi Smith raised an interesting point.  We know that there is an DHET prioritisation of full qualifications, which Setas are now doing.  However, there are certain short courses, which are essential to business as they fulfill legal requirements.  Examples are first aid, safety representatives, fire fighting.  I thought it would useful for us to identify - what are the short courses that businesses either are legally required to regularly train their employees on, or believe that they are necessary for effective running of their business? 

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When I do job selection assessments and career development for individuals already empoyed by companies there are many soft skills which are required for success and often not addressed by the full qualifications these individuals already have.   These are areas like assertiveness, better written/oral communication skills, planning and self-discipline/motivation skills, professional conduct at work, adapting to a multicultural environment etc.  Academic qualifications, in general, do not help people to grow in the very skills that often make the difference between being a skilled worker or subject specialist and moving up the coporate ladder to a more senior role in management.  People also often have to / want to improve in particular skills they feel were not adequately addressed in their more formal studies.  Short courses should be seen as a type of ongoing development similar to the Continuous Professional Development required by many of the professions.   

In order for a company to successfully implement a Quality Management System, or other management systems ie. Enviromental, they need to have internal Auditors. Therefore the courses on the individual standards and the implementation thereof, as well as Auditors courses are essential to the successfull implementation.

Thank you Margaret and Andrea, this is the kind of information I'm looking for.  You've reminded me about the HACCP implementation, where there is training on the various aspects of implementation, quality assurance, auditing, and maintenance of the system, at the levels appropriate to junior, supervisory and executive levels.  Also forklift, reachtruck, counterbalance certification. 

Our industry (Adventure Guiding) has specific unit standards that relate to the activity that guides must hold. Such as "Conduct a guided rock climbing experience". These are all single unit standards and as thery are so specialised very few are run and they do not belong in any full qualification.

With the way things are going through the QCTO and SETA requirements, it is very shortly going to be impossible to comply or follow any form of the present NQF, and the whole industry will revert to industry association training courses as happenned pre 2000. Legally this is contrary to the tourism act, but this process has become too cumbersom, expensive, long winded and simply unfit for purpose in our industry.

The Government can make whatever rules they like, but if its impossible to comply, the industry will simply do its own thing. I think the authorities have totally lost focus on skills development that meets the industries needs and is more focussed on a political soccer match to see who can seize the most power and funding.

What about the training of Subject Matter Experts as Assessors and Facilitators to ensure good educational practice in workplace training programmes? Certainly it cannot be expected that everybody contributing to training must have an educational qualification. Or that only professionally qualified educators can train specialised skills. These short courses should be enough to equip experts with understanding to ensure that the learning is effective and the measuring of performance is done against the set outcomes.

Andrew and Zerelde - good to hear from you both - Zerelde you remind me of the SDF situation, where we (using the word loosely) still have never managed to develop a qualification - I recall ASDFSA & SABPP attended meetings & I followed the process for a while - it seems like years ago. 

Apart from all of the above we are faced with the aspect of RPL. If a candidte is RPL'd against certain components (call them unit standards or whatever) of a qualification and a shortfall is determined then there will be a need for any amount of short courses as this scenario will apply to all qualifications. In addition we have exit level outcomes associated with so many of our qualifications that automatically necessitate short courses. Take for instance the NQF level 6 ODETD National Crtificate there are 6 exit level outcomes as follows

  1. Analyse needs and plan and design learning.
2. Facilitate learning in routine and complex situations.
3. Engage in and promote assessment practices.
4. Facilitate and manage skills development in an organisation.
5. Define and evaluate standards.
6. Evaluate Human Resource Development interventions.

I would suggest for these reasons alone that short courses cannot be done away with. 

Other short courses will be various supervisory and management interventions, Assesor training, Moderator training, SDF training and so on. By linking qualifications to specific jobs and specific career paths which in turn will be linked to the OFO"s (Organisational Framework for Occupations) then again I say short courses will be a necessity.    

The discussions are very interesting and show once again the disconnect between the different Departments and Industries and the needs of real people on the ground. I believe that the providers will have to be accredited for the full qualification to obtain accreditation. However, there is nothing stopping them once such accreditation has been awarded only offering skills programmes as opposed to the full qualification.

In this way we would still be able to do what is required by our industries and comply with accreditation requirements and support the National structures like the NQF and QCTO.

It will also result in the employers still being able to claim back against their levies as the training will be conducted by accredited organsiations as per the requirements. I hesmust include the word current requirements for claiming back of levies.


And don't forget about Professional Development that are compulsory in certain professions!  These are all short courses.  How do you take a businessman out of his work for more than a day?  He even resents a day out of the office, especially in the case of SMEs.

Hi Sylvia.  Interesting topic.  One would expect most private providers to argue for their particular offerings.  Why don't you set up a national survey online asking all members to set out what short courses they or their organisations have been running these past few years and to weight them ito the criteria you have specified.   Then pick the top twenty or so and do a forced choice exercise.  Should make interesting reading for the Minister too.  Hopefully financial and computer literacy will be up there somewhere as well.  Regards, Brian 

Dear Sylvia and others,

I think this question actually asks the all important question of what and how we view short courses. Based upon the response it also positions the reality of just how challenging the current approach to training and development is in the broader framework. I tend to position much of what happens in the short course environment in the following way. Starting with legal and compliance driven training (first aid, occupational health and safety,etc), which is as we know not supported by the public FET college environment, as well as performance improvement type training to enhance and address skills gaps and short term needs for employee and individual performance needs. Following that is the positioning or training for growth and career development or organisational/product and/or service changes.

I tend to view it visually as illustrated below:

The other key points raised by Andrew, Catherine, Brian, Des and others makes it plain that there is a mismatch between what the short course framework means in a practical sense and how the NQF system is trying to deliver currently and how the DHET wants it to be delivered in future. For myself I see a big mismatch between these areas and that is my concern, that we are forced into choosing the form of how (learnerships and accredited training only) and who (public sector only) delivers it, over need and the ability to at least matches the demand.

That is not even taking into account actually trying to improve skills.

Excellent lay-out of the different types and purpose of short courses, Ashwell. It has just made me remember why I have gone the route of getting ABET Literacy and Numeracy training approved as short courses/skills programmes - because the levels 1-3 is purposed to address the performance gap regarding the language of the workplace. I prefer to view it purely as a bridging programme to enable employees to enter into NQF 1 qualifications eventually (and employers engaging with us agree on this aspect). The traditional route of having to write all 3 IEB exams before 'qualifying' for such entry has proved to be impractical and often unattainable.


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