Home › Forums › Focus Group: Doctoral Research: The Quality Assurance Challenges of Private Providers › Focus group Question 1
15th September 2012 at 3:13 am #37179
- To what extent do you believe that the staff of your ETQA comply with the Code of Conduct for Public Servants (2001) which states that they must
- put the public interest first in the execution of their duties?
- serve the public in an unbiased and impartial manner in order to create confidence in the public service?
- be polite, helpful and reasonably accessible in their dealings with the public, at all times treating members of the public as customers who are entitled to receive high standards of service?
- recognise the public’s right of access to information, excluding information that is specifically protected by law?
15th September 2012 at 8:10 am #37197
I am not sure if my answer will contribute to your research as I am the only member of the group and I do not really deal with the public as such.
When I deal with clients I try to give them as much information as possible for them to make an informed decision.
I do deal with public bodies and my honest opinion is that with one or two notable exceptions their answer to the above questions would be an emphatic NO.
15th September 2012 at 10:48 am #37196
My immediate response would be by means of a question – do employees of the SETAS even know such a code exists?
I would have to say the employees of many SETAS put themselves first and have no idea who their customers are. They have no concept of service. They are bound by red tape and confined in terms of personal thinking. They are incapable of innovation – if the box cannot be ticked then there is stalemate and stagnation.
No effort is made to instill confidence and this unfortunately, with the exception of two or three SETAs comes from the top. Politeness is not a problem but ineptitude is. As for being helpful and reasonably accessible in their dealings with the public, at all times treating members of the public as customers who are entitled to receive high standards of service – you have got to be joking!!!Phones go unanswered, voice recordings are left on for messages most of the day, they ignore requests for information and fail to respond to the simplest of queries.
The final point related to access to information I unfortunately can only say that employees of SETAS, when you do manage to get to deal with someone, will give you what is essential and nothing more. In my dealings with various SETAS I find employees are guiced by rules and regulations and in many instances have no idea as to why thngs are done or required to be done the way they are. They are not enlightended people – they are typical civil servants.
15th September 2012 at 2:09 pm #37195
I could not have said it better. I gave a restrained answer as this is a public forum but you hit the soft spot! Your last sentence – they are typical civil servants. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) I grew up in a different era when civil servants were just that – both civil and servants.
15th September 2012 at 4:36 pm #37194
Juliet Camilla GilliesMember
My understanding is that doctoral research for any credible institution is required to be done in such a way that the identities of the respondents are protected. Using a forum like this, which exposes respondents, therefore does not comply with such requirements i.t.o. ethics and any response would probably compromise the ability of many to earn a living. This means that your data will be seriously biased, and therefore that the research results will not be reliable.
16th September 2012 at 6:38 am #37193
Congratulations on putting this group together. I trust that I will be able to assist your efforts as far as possible.
This is a very difficult set of questions to answer in a way that will contribute to any meaningful reserach.
My view is that a questionnaire of this nature needs to be set up with Likert scales for each question. Another thought – possibly this format is not the best tool to use. There is free software available which enables one to set up questionnaires on the Internet and which collates one’s results. I suggest that this may be a more academically sound approach.
In any event the questions are too generalised. Some individuals within ETQA’s are very good, some are very poor. Why are we being asked to rate whole populations of individuals in four questions?
The questions are asking respondents to generalise and the emotive responses by for instance Des Squires and Bernard Botha indicate that no useful information is likely to emerge.
Sorry to be so negative but I think a great deal more thought needs to be put into the questionnaires.
This is a very important area of research and I am very keen to provide as much assistance as possible.
16th September 2012 at 7:15 am #37192
An interesting site I found on informed consent:
16th September 2012 at 7:59 am #37191
To quote Edmund Burke “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” I have no fear of reprisal from any source, particularly when we are dealing with a system that so desperately needs improvement. Whether my identity is made public or not is irrelevant, what is important is that pertinent issues are exposed. Without that exposure, nothing will change. And as far as the emotive content of discussions is concerned, surely this is a visible measure of the discontent and frustration with a system? is this not equally as important when considering research? It is this simpering timidity that has allowed ETQA’s to regress into kingdoms of “evil”. By its very nature, we are working in an emotive environment, which has been exacerbated by ineffective and incompetent service. We are dealing with a critical area here and I for one support your research. While there are some shining stars amongst ETQA’s, they are a rarity and in general the service from these bodies falls far short of Code of Conduct for Public Servants (2001).
16th September 2012 at 1:15 pm #37190
As indicated when I signed up for this focus group, I am just starting out in setting myself up as a training provider and have not ad personal contact with ETQAs as yet. However, when trying to access relevant and useful information on most SETAs/ETQAs websites I end up in a mind boggling discrepancy in the interpretation of things such as accreditation and the like, and loads of outdated information. Skills Universe have bene giving me more relevant information for that matter.
For me it means that (senior) ETQA staff does not recognise the public’s right to access to information. If they woyuld, they would ensure that information is up-to-date and easily accessible. I sincerely hope that the new OTQA framework will solve part of the problem and I am eagerly waiting for October 1.
In any case, if the outdated and limited information that we find on the websites is the same stuff that more junior ETQA staff has to work with, I pity them. Trying to put myself in their position: I would be too embarrassed to speak with those calling for information. As Des Squire puts it they are bound by red tape and confined in terms of personal thinking. Which brings it all back to the lack of adequate competencies, and the problem in education and training. Again the main issue it comes back to is how to break the vicious cycle. If even ETQA staff are not capable to do what they should do ….., how can one ever expect the system to work as it should?.
17th September 2012 at 5:39 am #37189
I cannot give you a straight answer on this, as my experience has been mixed in this regard.
I have experienced excellent service from some staff members at some of the Setas and at the same time absolute indifference and total incompetence from others.
What is a total inigma to me is that 90% of the time staff are not available – either via email or telephonically and the voice messages or “out of office replies” states that they are either on leave (granted they are allowed leave) – but should somebody else not stand in during this time, or on a workshop, or at a conference. If so much time and money is spent on their “training” – we should experience “extreme” competence!
I do think that they are aware of The Code of Conduct (I am phoned from time to time to complete a customer service questionnaire) – however, I do not think they really take it to hart. Why should you if you get your salary regardless of whether you do your job or not! Although I have always given honest feedback in this regard – nobody has ever followed up or clarified a bad rating. My question is “What is done with this feedback?”
19th September 2012 at 5:56 am #37188
Thank you for your comment.
My initial posting when I created the focus group explained the purpose of the research, why I am undertaking it, how identities would be protected, etc. The people who choose to participate have therefore been informed and are participating willingly without any coercion or incentives. The university has approved the research design in which I have discussed the ethical issues of working in an online forum. If people are afraid of consequences, they can choose not to participate.
19th September 2012 at 5:58 am #37187
19th September 2012 at 6:04 am #37186
I have designed a questionnaire which contains all the above and will be distributed to about 5000 people via SurveyGizmo in the next few weeks. If you would like to participate in this please send me your email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will add you to the database. The purpose of the focus group is to gather qualitative information as opposed to quantitative information. This is for purposes of triangulation.
19th September 2012 at 6:17 am #37185
19th September 2012 at 7:03 am #37184
Bernard Botha. I deal wih Umalusi and the DHET on a regular basis.
The responses would be exactly the same as for the SETA’s. At least both Umalusi and DHET tell you which boxes were not ticked.
However at Umalusi you have to make an appointment to see any official and that is a mission because their phones just ring and they never reply to an email. In the past you could just walk and ask about progress on a file but that is something of the past – these people are very busy and are always in a meeting, on a course or on leave
19th September 2012 at 7:55 am #37183
Hi Jacqui – yes you can do that -I’ve changed it for you.
But for future:
Open the group, go to Options and click on the right to get the drop-down menu – choose edit group – and click on the box that new members have to be approved. So now you will receive a mail every time someone wants to join and you can approve or not.
19th September 2012 at 8:25 am #37182
25th September 2012 at 9:35 am #37181
Like most of the others that have responded I too have mixed feelings about the SETAs. One day they have no problem to help and the next you get the cold shoulder. They don’t reply to requests for information unless they can grind you in the process. Then there are times where they are really helpful when you need it.
2nd February 2013 at 5:01 am #37180
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