New qualifications and the QCTO 15

All the qualifications that are registered under the current SAQA process will be valid until their expiry date.
Thereafter, they will be written in line with the new QCTO regulations if the qualifications are still required by the sector. This will apply to all qualifications.

Various parties are currentl waiting for the go ahead to commence work with the revision of qualifications in terms of appropriateness and applicability to the workplace.

There will be three components in all qualifications as set out in the previoous QCTO Document

  • General and specialised knowledge
  •  Practical skills Work experience

The only shift I am aware of is that the knowledge component will have to be aligned to subjects at universities and FET Colleges. Other knowledge will be linked to practical skills i.e more hands-on knowledge

It also seems there will then have ot be at least two Assessments – Theory component and work experience component which in turn will require two separate assessors.

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About Des Squire

I specialise in Employment Equity and Skills Development issues. Qualified facilitator, assessor, moderator, verifier and SDF. Available for any related assignments and or freelance work. If ou have a need let's meet to discuss. Quotes for training on request.

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15 thoughts on “New qualifications and the QCTO

  • Ashwell Glasson

    As noted by Des and confirmed by various members, we should not speculate on the nature of how the QNF will be implemented in the abscence of direct inputs from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). DHET is yet to issue specific guidelines or policy interpretations with regards the specific objectives as laid out by the NSDS III strategy.

    In discussion with Darryl McClean, a well-known consultant working on various elements of the process it is becoming abundantly clear that the principle of articulation between the three sub-frameworks of the overall NQF framework is becoming central to the implementation of the NSDS III as well as the overall Departmental strategy for the next five years. This articulation also relates to the supply or provision-side of skills development. As noted in the various objectives of the NSDS III, DHET recognises that big business cannot absorb all work seekers, that community-based initiatives, the informal sector and small-micro-medium-enterprises (SMME) have to be meaningfully included in the workplace landscape into the future. Hence the upgrading and improvement of the public FET college system is a major short-term target of the Department, which DHET believes can service the poor and rural learners far better than the private sector providers. This focus on the poor, disadvantaged and rural-based learner is a key feature of NSDS III, as there is a wide belief that the skills development system is still only benefiting the middle-class and more urban-based learners than the poor or disadvantaged.

    The concept of class has also been introduced into the SETA reporting requirements, although no guidelines have been provided yet to determine how class will be measured. There is some consensus that this might be linked to a form of a means test, or the application of specific class based definitions linked to income and/or level of education. For Skills Development Facilitators this is going to be an interesting challenge as it will be expected that the SETA workplace and annual training report formats will be changed to reflect these requirements, although many SETA’s do request that companies that submit Workplace Skills Plans ask for the educational profile of their employees. In addition levy-payers will be expected to provide truly NSDS III aligned workplace skills plan submissions and the days that WSP’s were ‘accepted’ versus ‘approved’ are set to become the norm.The previous NSDS incarnations (NSDS I and II) represented strategies built upon the bedrock of basic compliance by most of the stakeholders, from the SETA’s, to the employers, levy-payers, training providers and finally the ETD practitioners. NSDS III provides a flexible approach, but it requires all stakeholders to embrace the opportunity to engage the skills planning system more intensively, through the Sector Skills Planning processes. SDF’s will have to truly embrace the system in a far more meaningful fashion, structural compliance will no longer be sufficient for mandatory grant disbursement.


    Back to the public versus private provider debate, there is a  perception that the profit principle which guides private providers means that they cannot deliver learning provision effectively to rural-based learners at a cost that the state can afford. As many private training providers tend to focus their efforts in the major and secondary metropolitan areas, whilst the Department believes that the Public FET Colleges will be able to be more effective delivery to the poor and disadvantaged. To alleviate further concerns from the private provider market though, DHET truly intends to support non-traditional private training provision by directing SETA’s to target and support co-operatives, community-based development organisations and the NGO providers, who often offer development and support programmes to the rural poor, vulnerable groups and communities. I personally applaud this approach, as it really acknowledges the good work that many NGO’s are currently doing in fulfilling learning services to these groups and individual learners.

    To support this one can notice the increase in the amount of SETA-based capacity-building projects that are focused on supporting the development of curriculum and human resources at the various Public FET Colleges. An exmaple of this includes the existing INSETA capacitybuilding programme with the Public FET Colleges. This trend is set to increase over time even further as SETA’s will be required to support the Public FET College system even further through the new common service level agreement framework, which will direct SETA’s to either fund certain capacity-enhancement programmes or interventions to assist the Public FET Colleges to improve their sector-specific programmes that they will be implementing in future. Provider-based qualifications or qualifications considered to be unique to one provider will either fall away or have to be aligned to an existing registered qualification on the framework. To ensure some consistency, SAQA’s role in maintaining the database of qualifications is likely to continue as the QCTO will not be taking over the higher education qualification sub-framework (HQF) qualification registrations as these fall outside of the QCTO’s mandate. All three band ETQA’s, DHET are in a process of negotiating this along with SAQA to determine how this will be managed and implemented into the future. Importantly, the first objective of the NSDS III articulates that the DHET will establish a true skills planning system, one that is widely recongised as most likely being informed as a labour market information system approach and this may or may not be driven centrally, as the SETA’s will have to ensure that their annual secto skills plan updates are informed by labour market signals, indicators and a battery of forecasting tools to establish ‘real-time’ labour market needs.


    Other key aspects of the NSDS III strategy that are also in the process of being fleshed out include the criteria and requirements for the PIVOTAL grants, which will be funded through the 10% allocation of the revised skills development amendment dropping the mandatory grant rate from 50 to 40%. We can certainly expect a veritable raft of Skills Developemnt related amendments, discussion papers and guidelines to be released and provided for stakeholder input over the next year or so. In wrapping up, I can say that there is certainly an air of optimism throughout many SETA’s regarding the shift from a very quantitative approach to a more mixed or qualitative approach to determing needs and provision into the future. The responsibility for successful skills development will be shared more equitably now with the SETA’s, training providers, host employers and employer organisations involved in implementing skills development. The ongoing debate that national and provincial government is currnetly engaged in the vigorous internal debate regarding a potential mandatory contribution of 1% to the SETA system or similar. The Honourable Minister worthy attempt to truly get the public service to play a more significant role in developing its capacity to fulfill its service delivery requirements through building its human capacity is a fundamentally practical approach to dealing with the growing social unrest at poor delivery at all levels of government.A laudable idea that is hotly contested by many departments (not all), which for me is quite concerning as they do not seem to want to acknowledge their role within capacity-building within the state system.

    As noted with the DHET versus Construction SETA debate and the Ministers comments with regards the SETA-based accreditation processes, the Department will move to take action on ‘performance-related’ issues including at SETA, provider and host employer level.


    This makes for interesting times for us all.

  • herbert Mawodyo

    This is a great development to enhance Des Squire, lets hope it will not delay the reason and processes of skills development in learners. A movement towards world class research based general, specialised, practical and work related learning makes a summation of units into a whole.

  • Des Squire Post author

    There are a number of pilot projects in the process of being formalised with QCTO. Only once the QCTO approves these pilot projects and submit for registration to SAQA will there be greater clarity on how it will affect current qualifications and at which level, etc.
    For now all qualifications remain as is until otherwise informed by the QCTO.
    It is dangerous to speculate or create false impressions at this stage so as the person who first responded regarding qualifications I can only urge caution and let’s not jump the gun.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Hi Herman,

    Regarding the provider driven qualifications, my understanding is that we will have national educational qualifications and national occupational qualifications.  The provider driven qualifications which are not occupational qualifications may still exist as qualifications, but would be accredited by Umalusi or CHEQ.  

    My question then is – if current provider driven qualifications are not accredited as national occupational qualifications, or by Umalusi or CHEQ, would they then continue to offer the courses as training “programmes” but not as qualifications – or as non-accredited qualifications? 

  • Herman van Deventer

    Dear Werner
    You might find that many of the current provider driven qualifications will not exist in the future as national occupational qualifications. Occupational qualifications will also differ as the current rules of combination, core, fundamental and elective will no longer apply.
    Provider accreditation will no longer be a SETA ETQA function. Providers will be accredited by the QCTO. Accreditation criteria will be covered in the occupational curricula, and this does not necessarily include the current program approval approach followed.
    Current indications are the SETA accredited providers will be recognised by the QCTO.
    Please remember that all these matters will be clarified by the QCTO Council by means of policy papers. NO FORMAL POLICY DOCUMENTS HAS BEEN MADE PUBLIC BY THE COUNCIL TO DATE.

  • Herman van Deventer

    Hi Sylvia
    All integrated external assessments for trades will be managed by the National Artisan Moderating Body – NAMB
    The NAMB was established in terms of section 26A of the Skills Development Amendment Act, No 37 of 2008.
    Minister of HE&T officially launched NAMB late last year
    According to the act, its functions will be to:
    · monitor the performance of accredited artisan trade test centres;
    · moderate artisan trade tests;
    · develop, maintain and apply a national data base of instruments for assessing and moderating artisan trade tests;
    · develop and maintain a national data base of registered artisan trade assessors and moderators;
    · record artisan achievements;
    · attend to appeals against assessment decisions; and
    · make recommendations to the quality council for trades and occupations (QCTO) on the certification of artisan

  • Ester Olivier

    Hi all

    i am very excited with the drive and the direction we going with qualifying our work force in a specific Sector, we need this in our Country to make people aware of the necessity of being competent in whatever field a person is operating.

  • Herman van Deventer

    A few comments:

    The new skills development landscape that is unfolding under the QCTO will bring about a number of changes to the old system.  Current indications with regards to occupational qualifications are as follows:

    Occupational qualifications will be linked to an occupation on the OFO, a labour market need, and not to a training need as was so often the case in the past

    The qualifications as such is a secondary document based on an occupational curriculum. The curriculum is structured as three main focus areas:

    • Subject specifications – the disciplinary knowledge component.
    • Practical skills modules – specific practical skills, associated applied knowledge
    • Work experience modules – the work context and scope learners must be exposed to

    Assessments will be conducted by QCTO accredited providers of subject specification and practical skills modules.  Candidates will receive a statement of results from the providers.  This is an “internal assessment” process and the current assessors unit standard is not prescribed

    Work experience modules will be completed by learners at a registered place of work.  Learner achievements will be signed off by the workplace and a workplace statement of results or record will be issued.

    An specific partnership relationship will be established by the QCTO with a body that will ensure that national standards are defined and maintained for every occupational qualification.  One body only per qualification.

    For qualifications other than trades, these bodies are known as Assessment Quality Partners and their appointment must be supported by industry.

    All learners will be subjected to an integrated external assessment managed by this body prior to certification by the QCTO.  Learners will have to present their statements of result as well as other requirements specified in the occupational curriculum to qualify for the external assessment.  Assessors at this level will be appointed by the Assessment Quality Partner.



  • Liane Regnard

    Do not foresee much change, as currently there should be both a theoretical assessment and a practical assessment for all qualifications…


  • Werner Rossouw

    How will accreditation or programme approval work? If a provider already has programme approval from a SETA for a qualification and that qualification expires and is re-written under QCTO, will the provider have to submit programmes for SETA evaluation again?