Is "red tape" hampering the skills revolution?

By sylviahammond, 22 May, 2012

"Red tape" is the description often used to describe accreditation processes. While understanding the need for quality, accredited programmes in order to redress the exclusion from education and training for the majority of the population, have we gone overboard and tried to include programmes that are better remaining outside the "red tape" system?  Minister Nzimande recently raised the "skills revolution".  So it's appropriate to ask: Is "red tape" hampering the skills revolution? 

Andrew Rose posted the comment quoted in full below; he refers specifically to IT programmes.  I also have had the experience of saying to an IT provider, there are no unit standards covering your (essential business) programme.  The time and cost doesn't merit accreditation because your customers aren't interested in being assessed as competent - more time and money.

So should we clearly be distinguishing between these business skill programmes - that change and are updated frequently, and those that do require formal accreditation?

Years ago when studying Marx, our lecturer observed that neo-Marxists were spending so much time analysing the theory in their offices, that they'd forgotten about the revolution on the ground.  Are we hampering the skills revolution with too much red tape in too many offices?

And if accreditation doesn't bring easy articulation, then isn't it all a waste of time anyway?   

Andrew Rose's comment: "My immediate thoughts upon reading this"

(SAQA notification of re-registration of qualifications, see

"are of - more admin and time down the drain, past and

future. And how many training projects in the bigger scheme of "spend in our industry" actually require what I think often amounts to "red tape"? I acknowledge that some where standards are necessary, but I wonder how much time and money actually gets spent on this admin.

If I had the time, and was some sort of "educational commentator", I would love to get to the bottom of the cost of this - to providers, those needing to learn and the administrators involved in tracking all of this. That is, if 100 million rand is spent in the design and development of training material, what is the actual percentage spent on SAQA linked material?

In more than 10 years I've been involved in the design and dev of training (mainly in IT), I've often had to consider the reality of matching material to SAQA requirements. But the will to spend money by clients and business on the admin related to meeting and administering SAQA always negates taking the "final step" and getting courses accredited. That business is often happy (and rightly so in most cases) to get material out and to focus on engaging with their customers.

In the late 90's, when I headed the Training Design and Development team at Softline Pastel, after many weeks of training to get training courses accredited, I ended up advising the board and investors to "opt out" and that we just go for it. Nearly 15 years later, many people have been through Pastel's training centres, and are still going through the centres - with minimal adverse learning expriences. Probably because people and business actually just need to get on with it.

The revenue generated for Softline Pastel has probably been worth more than their software (left there about 8 years ago by the way).

My point is that your news takes me back to business decisions I was making more than 10 years ago. In various industries that I have serviced since then, I've found myself advising my clients to "only worry about SAQA when you need to". Business needs to get on with what they do, administrators need to et on with what they do.

Are SAQA requirements the luxury of learning or business institutions that have the resources (human and financial) to manage the design, development and delivery of their courses?

Are SAQA accredited courses a niche environment - where consumers have to udnerstand what they get, and trainers need to udnerstand what they're meant to be delivering?

How much training in the years after graduating needs to be SAQA accredited?

What is the angle that business needs to buy into in order to justify the extra spend?

Should true learning not be measured on job productivity and business creativity, and not on "accredited certificates".



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