Are companies being ripped off by certain training companies and getting away with it?!! 12

I am not a regular blogger. However i feel I need to ask you your opinion and therefore i will elaborate on the title above.

There is an important argument against the mandatory ‘comply or else’ framework: a ‘one size fits all’ approach cannot logically be suitable, because the types of business and enterprises carried out by organisations are so varied. Further, the danger is that the governing body may become focused on mindless compliance instead of applying its mind to the best governance practice for the particular issue before it.   (King 4 part 3)

This leads me to the point that certain compliance training has no legal imperative to be updated annually, a practice that many companies are told by the service providers is compulsory to maintain the legal status quo. 

What this also means is that these companies being offered such programmes as Fork lift training, Advanced driving, Occupational Safety Reps, Occupational Safety Coordinators, Working at Heights as many others too that companies are being told  to get updated every year to maintain the accreditation. 

From my 25 years experience…. I feel that this is nonsense. How can accredited programmes, even those that are compliance based become null and void after a year or 2? I do understand the value of keeping updated and informed about changes in policies, amendments, and new ways of applying these, but this is very different from taking advantage of  unsuspecting companies being targeted, many of whom are actually medium sized corporates.

But there is an unspoken understanding that has infiltrated the corporate community through devious minded providers, making a killing on the vulnerabilities of  these companies when it comes to compliance issues. Many of these companies  have been hoodwinked, hooked and reeled in by this strategy.

There are however certain programmes that do need updating for legislative purposes, for example “The Basic First Aid, CPR and Choking” are valid for 2 years. The “First aid Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 courses” are valid for 3 years. And the “First aid Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3” are accredited by the Department of Labour.

The Generally Accepted Compliance Practice © (GACP) framework consists of principles, standards and guidelines that act as a benchmark for compliance best practice that organisations and their Compliance Officers should apply.

If you could give me feedback on this issue, and if i am wrong, please let me know. But if this is the case, people need to be aware that their training spend does not have to become a form of passive income for these fly by night providers.


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12 thoughts on “Are companies being ripped off by certain training companies and getting away with it?!!

  • Lynel Farrell

    Hi Nigel, you made my day, thank you so much.  It was not my intension to open up another can of worms.  I completely agree with you, providers should conduct training where they have sufficient experience – and yes, there are providers that we call ………… mince machines, that actually pushes numbers through and not quality.  Money and profits are the goal, and not upskilling individuals correctly. 

    With the experience I had, I am thankful for being able to attend the same training by two different providers.  This was an eye opener and a very good exercise – yes it is costly, but I have used various different approaches to learn from the industry.  What better way to benchmark training and information gathering?  What made my experience worse, is that the provider that was not accredited, gave me more information (which I obviously validated) than the provider that was accredited.  Experience in the field is absolutely crucial.  If I was to rate the non-accredited provider against the Accredited Provider, I would have failed/rejected the accredited provider.  Unfortunately at the time that this was done, I was not educated enough to take it further ………….. I will let sleeping dogs lie.

    Being critical is a great and important, not everybody’s cup of tea, but 100% necessary.  With this said, I am all for compliance, annual reviews and staying current within an industry. 

  • Nigel Shipston

    Well, well! Lance say welcome to my fellow conspirator and adopted little sister with the voice of reason!

    Lynel, perhaps you have touched on a little more here.  I think the range of training that training providers take on is often more than they are really capable of, or sufficiently knowledgeable about.  I see scaffolding personnel being trained by people who often have no clue about SANS 10085.  I see people training others on working at heights, without proper background, and fiddling with fall rescue, when training on fall rescue has proven almost as deadly to training participants as incidents in the workplace.

    With my experience, you will forgive me for being a little critical, but training providers need to focus on what they know, and not dabble in fields in which they have minimal knowledge or background.  By doing this, perhaps they will be better suited to advising customers as to correct procedures, which is what should be happening.

    Unfortunately, what you experienced with your First Aid training is just another method of short circuiting the system.  To avoid the time, costs and effort of accreditation, many providers offer training and issue Certificates of attendance, not Competency, which only accredited providers can offer.  This play on wording permits them to appear “credible” and “valid”, but of course, under close scrutiny at any later stage, this results in considerable disadvantage to learners/employers.

    And that uneasy feeling about acting in an emergency?  I fear that feeling is probably experienced, but never expressed, by many more people who have been found “competent” in various fields.  This is what happens when the only commitment to training is turnover and profit.

  • Lynel Farrell

    Hi Lance, what an interesting topic.  The comments thus far are really awesome.  When looking at specific topics, one cannot benchmark one profession with another for example an operator in lifting machinery against a firefighter or an individual that just completed a first aid course. 

    Just for interest sake, when looking at the profession: Firefighter

    A fire fighter is a special born person that will enter were you are afraid of to enter. This is a professional job which needs extreme training in South Africa. The American fire fighters say we do not know how you guys can be an “all in one fire fighter” because in America and all over the world each fire fighter have his/her specific task to do.  In SA we are trained in firefighting that is a full time 16 week course and that does not stop there.  They still need to write yearly exams and study thru university for your b-tech degree in fire technology, this is just the beginning then they need to learn medical (paramedic) and this start with the following:

    • first aid level 1 to 3;
    • basic ambulance assistant (basic life support medic 4 weeks);
    • ambulance emergency assistant (intermediate life support 4 months);
    • critical care assistant (11 months) / national diploma medical / b-tech medical (4 – 5 years) (advance life support paramedic)

    A lot of people with a medical qualification will tell you that they are a paramedic in fact that is untrue you need to be on an advance level to be called a paramedic and this is the medical side.  Further training as a fire fighter in hazardous material from awareness level to operation level to technician level and that is for the hazardous environment.  One of the most interesting sides of the fire department is the rescue area that start at:

    • high angle 1 (rope rescue) / vehicle rescue / fire search & rescue
    • high angle 2 (specialized rope rescue) / wilderness search & rescue / aquatic rescue (water & small boat / skipper) / aviation rescue / industrial & agricultural / confined space rescue / trench rescue / structural collapse rescue / hazardous material rescue / k9 search & rescue / cave rescue etc:

    I am not able to benchmark a firefighter against a safety rep, a coordinator or a lifting machine operator – the training is completely different.  Each area of profession/trade is very specific and different compliance and compulsory training is subject to the unique trade/profession/title. 

    What was interesting on your topic, was the fact that some courses have expiry dates, which is true.  Funny enough, a couple of years ago I took some courses.  The one specific course I did at two different providers (in the same year).  The one provider issued me a certificate with an expiry date, and the other provider issued me a certificate with no expiry date – this was the same course – both for first aid!  The standard of information was completely different, the practicals were like night and day.  Although I received the certificates, I can be honest and tell you, I did not feel comfortable nor competent to act in an emergency. 

  • Simphiwe Mdikane

    Hi Lance.

    I just recently left a big rail company to go on my own. Training is all I know, together with the legislation that goes with it. I saw a need to assist small siding operators in the rail industry because they are struggling to maintain their operating licenses with the regulatory bodies. You are correct, it is easy for these companies to be taken for a ride, and that why I aim to assist them as part of my offerings. Unfortunately there are legal requirements that must be complied with when it comes to operating big machinery and we cannot run away from those.

    Though we have these laws in the country, they are however not absolute. One can approach either the DoL or their regulatory body and strike a deal with them when it comes to training. If after evaluating your proposal they feel that it is workable, they will grant you a special permit if it requires some kind of exemption from the norm. I have seen this happen before.

    Getting accreditation may not be a problem as all you have to do is produce the required docs and equipment. That is why companies must be educated and know what they are getting from their providers. We aim to do just that as well as provide training where we can impart all this knowledge we have acquired over the years. 

  • Nigel Shipston

    Indeed Willemien!

    I think Alexander was referring to “legal” re-certification albeit in a different sense.

    Lance, I have had a number of fairly recent experiences with this very topic and it calls into question so many issues.  Does accreditation with a SETA indicate credibility? What is the real level of OHS and legal requirements knowledge among training providers?  If the training providers are not up to scratch with legal requirements, just what are they training the Learners?  Has training become an easy access point for people with minimal knowledge of proper training procedures, being rubber stamped for operation by SETA Accreditation Checklists?

  • Willemien Kleijn

    The comparison of driver’s and PDP licenses with this doesn’t entirely work, because I hold both and definitely do not need to be retrained or retested every time I renew them. It is an administrative process and in the case of the PDP getting police clearance.

  • Lance Levin Post author

    Hi Nigel, you make some very important points regarding this topic and i agree with you when it comes to certain industries where some quality assurance is recommended even if it is not legislated. But yes i think that you are quite right that there are also “reputable” companies involved. Training Providers should step up and take their rightful place, by advising their customers of correct and appropriate processes, not the customer dictating how they want things done. 

  • Nigel Shipston

    Hi Andre,

    Technically correct, but your wording of Learner/Assessor ratio is incorrect.  It is the Learner/Facilitator ratio that is 4:1.  There is only one reference to a Learner/Assessor ratio in the NCOP, and that is “1 hour practical training and assessment under a ratio of 1:1 assessor supervision”.

  • Nigel Shipston

    Hi Lance,

    Couldn’t agree with you more, although there a number of instances where regulatory compliance requires “re-certification”.

    In terms of the Driven Machinery Regulations, it has always been a requirement that Operators must be re-certified every 2 years as the DoL established statistics that indicated this was a suitable period to address retraining before skills degraded to unsafe practices.  In terms of the Road Traffic Regulations and the incorporated SANS standards, drivers conveying dangerous goods by road must be retrained every year.  And yes, there are retraining periods applicable to First Aid training.

    However, these retraining periods are legislated.  What is common is for these “validity dates” to be applied to other areas where no such legislative requirements are in place.  I can think of Construction plant operators who are not part of the Driven Machinery Regulations, but rather the Construction Regulations. There is no such legislated/regulated retraining or re-certification applicable to these Operators in terms of the Construction Regulations, yet most providers incorrectly apply the 2 year Lifting Machine re-certification policy to these operators as well.

    Unfortunately, this has become something of an accepted practice over the years, which obviously training providers have been reluctant to rectify.  Essentially it is an unfair practice, particularly for Operators and Employers, that Certificates are issued with validity dates.  SAQA has always held that a qualification is for life, therefore being found competent against a unit standard/Qualification is not subject to a “validity date”.  I always ask the question as to whether a competent Assessor/Moderator would be happy to receive a certificate on which has been randomly applied a “validity date”?

    I have often had this conversation with training providers, some of whom are large and “reputable”, certainly not fly by night’s.  Their immediate response is that it will effect their business.  My response is that the Learner is the focus of OBET and the NQF, NOT the training provider.  There is a marked reluctance to bring these matters to the attention of their customers, as training providers have used this method to ensure future business, whether wittingly or unwittingly.  If there was a name and shame portion to this, I believe you would be a little disturbed at the training providers that I know of that perpetuate these practices, despite having advised them otherwise.

    I have long waited for someone to bring this matter to the fore. It was only a matter of time, and I have always maintained that when it does come to light, training providers who carry out these practices will lose considerable credibility.  Profit before ethics and principles?

    I must ad here, that the Code of Practice for Lifting Machine Operators (NCOP) has taken this issue into consideration, in that an Operator should only receive one Certificate at the time of being found Competent against a unit standard, and that certificate CARRIES NO VALIDITY DATE!  The Operator is issued an Operator Carry Card on which the validity date appears, and any further retraining is subject to the issue of an updated Carry Card only.

    Unfortunately, some employers have also used this “validity date’ for retaining staff.  They encourage Training Providers to apply validity dates to Certificates issued, in the belief that because the company is paying for the training, they have the right to limit the Learners prospects for alternative employment.  They hold on to original Certificates, and subject to the expiry of the “validity date” on the Certificate ensure that this training cannot be carried to other prospective employers.  And in order to retain “business” , training providers comply!

    Sad, but true!  There are not enough people in either the training industry or without, who have the correct knowledge of these procedures, or in fact implement them.  In many instances however, there is knowledge of the unethical practices being carried out, but decisions are made to perpetuate these practices in favour of “strengthening” a business.

    There is absolutely no problem should an employer have an internal policy regarding re-training of staff in terms of their safety requirements.  It is not however acceptable to expect a Training Provider to implement this policy by means of applying unnecessary validity dates to their certificates.  It is way past time that Training Providers step up and take their rightful place, by advising their customers of correct and appropriate processes, not the customer dictating how they want things done.  There are certainly instances where custom training can be effectively applied, but it must be done within the acceptable principles of training and assessment.

    It is a sad indictment of our training industry that few if any training providers can or will offer appropriate and correct guidance to customers/employers.  That is their core focus, unlike the customer/employer, and is a little like the tail wagging the dog.  Or is it a little like a bunch of cheap prostitutes bending to the will of their customers?

    So yes Lance, you have hit a vulnerable point, but believe me, it is not the “fly by nights” that have created this, it is the big business “reputable” companies that are probably mostly to blame.

    Just by the way though, there are certain industries, such as working at heights, where you have the Institute for Work at Heights Professional Body, a voluntary body established and registered with SAQA, where there is a Continuous Professional Development requirement in terms of operating as a member of a Professional Body.  In this case there are 3 year validity dates relating to Work at Heights operators/ practitioners, which is quite acceptable in terms of professionalising an industry and offering credibility and reliability.  This is not a regulatory requirement, but certainly one could assume a certain amount of security in retaining the services of a provider willing to operate within the constraints of an industry established body.

    Okay, had my say!

  • Alexander Robertson

    I am not involved in lifting machinery, but as far as I am aware it is compulsory for operators of lifting machinery be renewed every two years in the same manner as a person has to renew your driver’s licence.  A PDP valid period is only 2 years whereas your normal driver’s licence is valid for 5 years.

  • Adre du Toit

    Hi Lance,

    Lifting equipment is accredited by both TETA and DoL.  It is written in the Health and Safety Act under Driven Machinery Regulation 18.11 that all lifting equipment with F and C codes, must have operators trained to operate such equipment as stated by the Chief Inspector of Department of Labour. It also states that operator training must be renewed on a 2 yearly basis as prescribed by the NCoP.  Further Novice training is to be done over 5 days and refreshers are done in 1 day and training may only take place on a 4:1 learner / assessor ratio. Not adhering to these guidelines can result in a company being fined during a DoL inspection.