How our health may be affected by decisions of DHET structures QCTO CHE SAQA

Front Page Looking For… Post-school Education & Training – including TVET How our health may be affected by decisions of DHET structures QCTO CHE SAQA

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    sylvia hammond

    Members of skills-universe who have been with us a long time will know that I have a personal opinion that the educators (all highly qualified and professional) sometimes make decisions without realising the realities of the real world of work.

    I fully understand and have read the original Presidential Commission Report, commissioned by President Mandela, on Restructuring the South African Labour Market (1996). I do also fully understand the concern of organised labour that there had been a lack of portability of the training that workers receive. p109.

    Clearly, there is a need for formal qualifications.

    However, I suggest that such qualifications should not exist exclusively.

    Phasing out of short, staged programmes of learning has negative consequences. Providing only a 4 year full time programme quite clearly excludes many – by virtue of time and cost. Only the already privileged are able to participate. Entirely contrary to everything that we are trying to achieve.

    Why am I raising this now? Because into my inbox this morning came an email Newsletter of our local private emergency health service – CMR. Explaining how COVID-19 has exposed the implications of the decision to remove short paramedic programmes – substituted only with a full-time 4 year programme.

    I quote:
    “Another perennial problem that Covid-19 has brought to the surface is the lack of qualified EMS personnel in South Africa. It remains a major crisis countrywide, as over the past four to five years the traditional paramedic phased-training courses have been stopped. All new paramedics must now do a full-time, four-year tertiary course, and the small numbers of people able to do and afford the course, and then graduate from it, have radically reduced the pool of new paramedics. The lure of much greater remuneration overseas has reduced numbers further.”
    Quoted with permission from Darren Zimmerman, Managing Director CMR.

    I have copied the newsletter onto a Word document and attached, should you wish to read it in full. The newsletter explains the stresses placed upon the service, amongst others, having to drive around looking for a hospital to take the patient.

    My point is, that this is not the only example, this is simply one example in one economic sector, which potentially has serious consequences for the health of the community.

    In all areas of the economy, we need short programmes of learning, enabling people to build at their own pace, to their own ability, and according to their own circumstances. In our fast changing environment, that is even more essential. How much has changed in the last 4 years? How much will change in the next?

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    Nigel Shipston

    Agreed Sylvia! I think one of the major issues with all of these processes is the value of “consultative” participation, where participants may not reflect the true representation of a sector/industry.

    I have a current example of Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) Operator training being laid claim to by a non-statutory (voluntary) Professional Body, laying claim to representation in this field. Bearing in mind that this training falls within the Driven Machinery Regulations currently authorised for accreditation by TETA, the claim to training for these machines is based on “representing” the industry, a situation which gives rise to hiring companies dominating the direction of this training. As a result of claiming representation (which all authorities appear to have accepted, hook, line and sinker without question) this hiring led drive is a little disconcerting.

    To clarify, while dominated by the hiring industry, the Professional Body lists only 5 recognised training providers for this training, all of which are TETA accredited. Yet TETA has a list of over 180 accredited providers for this machine training, not to mention over 500 registered assessors and over 200 moderators, very few of which have been invited to these processes, or who have elected not to participate for various justifiable reasons.

    One has to wonder how, against these statistics, a minority have managed to dictate to a majority, to the extent that they have:
    – convinced the DEL that they are qualified to manage this training when
    their main field is static, non-driven training?
    – managed to get exemption from the Regulations for their training
    providers, to the detriment of TETA legally accredited providers?
    – submitted “qualifications” to QCTO, taking a Level 02, 10 credit unit
    standard down to a non-credit bearing qualification equivalent to 1
    – got consideration for recognition in the Regulatory incorporated
    National Code of Practice for LMO training which would force 180 TETA
    accredited providers to forgo TETA accreditation and apply to the
    Professional Body.

    The problem here (and it appears with most other “consultative” processes) is that there seems to be little concern for the quality of those consulted. Long lists are submitted of people or parties “consulted”, but there is no justification for those participating. In this case, while hiring companies are most certainly stakeholders, should they dictate training criteria without training practitioners input? Surely the focus should be from training providers and practitioners?

    As with your example in the HW sector, “consultation and participation” need to consider the value of participants in order to get results of value that will ensure acceptance and implementation. Consultation that is justified by long lists of mildly interested parties is misdirected, dangerous and ill conceived.

    We need to have criteria that maintains the equilibrium of stakeholder values appropriate to the topic in question. I fear our current direction, however well intentioned, lacks credibility as a result if inefficient and ineffective “consultation”.

    sylvia hammond

    Thanks Nigel, you raise a very important question – consultation.

    I would suggest that there is sometimes a difference in the behaviour of government departments – between the spirit and letter of the law.

    So if DHET happens to publish a gazette for comment on the 20th December, or in the week before Christmas. What is the chance that it will be noticed? Secondly, if noticed and distributed by members such as Lynel, or the ASDSA groups, what is the chance that anyone has the time and opportunity to comment?

    The letter of the law requiring consultation may be complied with, but the spirit of obtaining consultation?

    As you mention, there is always the chance that a group with particular interests may garner participation and support, dominating the contribution and overriding the general public interest.

    That would also be my view of the dominanance of multi-nationals and nationals’ participation in the SETAs, where they do not have any vested interest in promoting support of SMMEs.

    Nigel Shipston

    Over the years I have participated in a number of qualification development sessions in my LMO field and other issues relevant to SMME training providers. A common factor is the value of representation in these sessions. To my mind, if an issue revolves around training, then the weighting of input should go in favour of ETD Practitioners who are familiar with and commonly practice various ETD functions. What I have seen is not so, and is pointedly so with the current example I mentioned.

    Invariably there are representatives for large organisations from mid management or higher levels, not the practitioners whose input could be direct and of value in terms of actual practices and trends. So decisions are made that represent “nice to have” and not “must have” or “should have”.

    Consultation as it currently stands, seems to indicate that having a long list of participants “justifies” decisions reached. There appears to be little concern surrounding the value of the input from representatives, merely that there are a range of participants. The word “consultation” can be described as a meeting with an expert for advice, for example with a doctor for medical advice. How many people in these consultative processes are “experts” in the field for which the “consultation” has been sought? I have it on good authority that, in the example I mentioned previously, that the “consultation” drive is being directed by certain interests and not by ETD Practitioners, whose input is generally overridden anyway despite the topic in question relating to training.

    My real concern is that having requested comment on proposed legislation, what are the chances that objections, whether justified or not, will be waved aside by the advisory panel (supposedly industry experts) who have put forward the draft in the first place?

    While I am by no means dismissing input from interested stakeholders, successful consultation requires that appropriate experts should carry significant weight in decision making. The success of any decision is based on appropriate consultation in order to obtain buy in from those affected. Without this buy in any decision is bound to encounter resistance and problems. Particular interest groups should not be permitted to hold sway in issues that are not their core focus.

    sylvia hammond

    Thank you Nigel. Yes, you raise an interesting point on the weighting of the input received during consultation.
    I must give that some more thought in terms of the statutory requirements.

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