Accreditation Processes

Costly requirement – to what end?

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    I have been following various training organisations through their accreditation and re-accreditation processes.  The most puzzling requirement is that personnel have to be appointed and their CV’s and other information must be stringently supplied in the process of accreditation/reaccreditation. 

    I cannot understand this requirement.  Yes its there and we all comply with it because otherwise the process has to start over again two years down the line.  But this is the puzzling thing: bodies must be put in place, the accreditation process becomes person-bound.  Training institutions are to appoint personnel and keep them on their staff until accreditation is done.  The accreditation process take 2 years.  So for two years, without any income to the institution, salaries must be paid and taxes must be paid irrespective of whether the accreditation process is successful or not. 

    Is this a reasonable and fair requirement?  I suggest not. 

    Has accreditation been refused because of personnel not being sufficiently qualified?  Yes, I know of an instance – but then the system created its own gigantic monster of requiring that the lecturers must have a higher qualification which qualification does not exist and RPL is in a mess.  But the onus is on the provider to find the body. 

    What happens if personnel walk out of an organisation because the waiting period is too long?  Well, then the process needs to start over again.  What if a person is taken on for the irght qualifications but turns out to be a poor fit in the organisation?  Sorry, ne, start over.  What if the only expert in SA in a subject dies before the accreditation and transfer of knowledge can take place?  Oh, well, uhm.  Tough.  Start over.  What happens if accreditation is granted and the person dies then? 

    Why is the requirement so personally bound?  Why is it not merely required that persons with the specifically listed set of qualifications be indicated and guaranteed to be found as soon as the accreditation be passed?  Would this not make it more competitive since personnel will not be hand-picked but the most suitable candidate must be chosen in order to fill the vacancy once accreditation has been obtained? 

    I suggest that this unreasonable requirement, imposing an unreasonable expense, can be dispensed with and should be replaced easily – moving from a personally bound requirement to a requirement for certain criteria in the possession of the training provider. 

    Furthermore, I suggest that it is an unreasonable requirement when comparing the public and private providers.  Public providers are not required to indicate who they are putting in front of a class.  Why is this required of the private providers?  Surely after 20 years, the private providers are proving themselves to be maturing into long term providers who are here to stay?  Should they not be treated with a lot more dignity and equality than is currently the case?  Surely the private providers have learned over years to be more discerning in their appointments?

    However, how would any change be brought about?  I dont know.  Because this lies in the realm of legislation and regulations and policies. Maybe it is time that the policies be scrutinised. 

    (Written in my personal capacity, not intending to convey any legal opinion or advice.)

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    Bernard Botha


    I have been meddling in the accreditation process for quite some time and I can fully understand your frustration.  It is absolutely pointless to try and argue with the system, the stock answer is “rules are rules and thus shall be implemented”, whether they are practical or not.

    SETA’s do not understand the practical issues of private business – I do not know of anybody who has the funds (and patience) to wait for two years to be able to start a business and who betide you if you start training before you have been accredited.

    The main problem is that most SETA’s apply the tick the box approach, no tick in the box, no progress.  Should you not have all the boxes ticked they will not respond and tell you what is lacking, you applied so you can ask why you did not receive an answer – and before you know two years have come and gone.  Some SETA’s do think outside the box and look at the application holistically but they are few and far between.

    And to make matters worse, all SETA’s are equal but some are more equal than others and they apply their own sets of rules and interpretations.

    Maybe it is because of my technical background but I am very impressed by the ‘technical’ SETA’s such as MerSETA, CHIETA, TETA and to a certain extent CETA. 

    The only practical solution would be for all SETA’s to use the same set of rules and apply them in the same way; but that means dismantling the empires.  Fortunately there is a glimmer of light on the horizon; APPETD have developed a set of criteria that are more focussed on implementation than mere compliance.  Not a case of ‘do you have this or that?’ – OK and tick the box.  Now it is ‘OK you have a policy or this, show me how you apply or intend to apply it.’  The sad part is that APPETD at present only looks at NATED (N4 to N6 qualifications).

    Another way out is to use somebody who works on accreditation full time and knows most of the rules and short cuts – the problem for a once-off application is that you get so stuck in the mire that you give up and waste time and money.

    One way around the CV issue that had worked in the past was to do as you suggested, draw up a job specification and have that ready but once again if the evaluator insists on seeing the physical body you are stumped.

    The only way to get the authorities to listen is to form a united front – the powers that be are not prepared to listen to individual providers.  Trying to get the individual providers to cooperate is almost an exercise in futility as the training environment is highly competitive – but can I share with you one of the best kept secrets of the training world?  There is an organisation who (tries it best to) look after the interests of the private providers, APPETD.  Please contact them.

    Bernard Botha

    Hannes Nel

    Your are right that the current QA process is flawed. In a way we are to blame – all of us know private providers who offer courses with facilitators who are not qualified or even motivated to do a proper job. Even so, I fully agree that the process should be different – the qualifications of facilitators in the employ of private providers should be a criterion for performance, not compliance. This would mean that the qualifications and abilities of facilitators and other staff, for that matter, should be quality assured once the institution is operating, not before the time. Hannes Nel


    Thank you, Hannes.  I think it needs to be made clear that my only beef currently is with the putting in place of bodies, instead of determining minimum qualifications that the body must have.  Ie, for teaching welding, certain minimum requirements should be put in place, instead of saying, we have John Doe, who has an id no and a family and by the way holds a certificate in welding.  The minimum requirement should be: once we obtain accreditation, we will have a person with a certificate in welding, teach welding.  Solution suggested: as far as I know, the regulations that are issued in terms of the Act(s) are secondary legislation, and only contain extremely broad guidelines.  The details are in the policies.  As far as I know, the policies do not have the power of legislation and are not published in the government gezette.  I could be wrong.  But I suspect that the policies should be questioned and brought in line with practical need.  This is valid on the levels of both Higher Education and Skills Development. 

    Sylvester Govender

    I understand your frustration Carla for I have been in the accreditation field for quite so time now and getting some of our business units accredited was a nightmare. The most frustration part was to wait for the ratification board to discuss our accreditation and only to find out that there was not enough time to discuss our accreditation. But I can confidently say that from the time I was dealing with the CHIETA SETA, our accreditation was never an issue.

    Sylvester Govender


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