Concerned Providers Interest Group – QCTO/SAQA/SETA/DHET

What a difference a year made – and the difference is performance by the QCTO

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    Report by sylvia hammond

    On 14 October 2015 the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) presented their Annual Report 2014-2015 to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training (PPCHET).  The difference from last year was startling and does deserve a “well done” to the QCTO.

    Whereas last year virtually nothing appeared to have been achieved, this year there were clear targets and performance measurements presented.  Not everything was achieved – some for good reasons, like you can’t upload to the NLRD if you haven’t any learners who have completed yet. 

    However, they had achieved a clean audit – and that is something to celebrate. But there were also examples of which they were proud –prioritised occupational qualifications developed and registered with the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), that fulfil an identified need to benefit the South African economy – and aid employment.

    The Chief Director: Occupational Qualifications Management Mtutuzeli Lata explained that the prioritised occupational qualifications target of 60 had not been met – 38 were achieved – but he did explain the learning gained in understanding the handover of occupational qualifications for registration to SAQA, and also the improvements instituted from the reception of requests for qualification development.  There was a clear indication that improvements had been made to the system and an expectation of future improved performance.

    The Chief Director: Occupational Quality Assurance Vijayen Naidoo reported that internal processing of Skills Development Providers (SDPs) was 10 days; accreditation of Assessment Centres 14 days. They have held 3 Assessment Quality Partner (AQP) Forums and 12 AQPs have been approved. (When a presenter explained the difference between an AQP and a QAP there was an audible “humpf” noise from one of the parliamentarian committee members.)

    Then on the monitoring of compliance of 21 QAPs, (that is the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs)) against remediation plans; there was 95% achieved because one SETA had no need of remediation. The overhead slide states: “In addition to monitoring The QCTO is involved in ongoing resolution of SETA related issues re Accreditation of SDPs and Outstanding Certification.”

    Lastly, the QCTO have developed a Health Promotion Officer qualification, with the Health and Welfare SETA (HWSETA) and 900 learners are registered on the qualification being conducted at 12 regional training centres, one of which is private.  Clearly, this stands to make a major contribution to community health.

    Chief Director: Corporate Services Ms Madilonga-Khondowe presented the financial report, and the CEO summarised their improved strategic goal and target setting.

    Now, a few paragraphs back skills-universe members could be heard breathing harder, and they will be glad to know that the parliamentarians ANC and DA had the questions ready because they had heard the SAQA presentation the day before.  They complimented the QCTO on the major improvements BUT still had questions. Please stop reading, get water and take your medication before reading further.

    Unfortunately, I did not attend the SAQA presentation but from the excellent SAQA PowerPoint slides (links at end) one can see the basis for one member’s question: are there really more than 13 000 training service providers? In reply it was explained by the QCTO chair Prof Peliwe Lolwana that these were the SETA accredited providers. Many are just individuals who don’t offer whole qualifications, they don’t have anything, they register their cc name with the SETA, they get money from learners and then they buy everything. Next year they don’t get learners and they just move off somewhere else. The name is still there but they are not active. The acting chair said “fly-by-nights”.   Please listen to the audio of the meeting (link at end) to see whether I captured this correctly.  SETA accredited training providers please respond.

    The committee member then said: but why do I receive phone calls telling me people are waiting for 2 years for SETA accreditation?  The answer seemed to indicate as explication that the training provider hadn’t provided all necessary documentation. Again providers may want to respond.

    The QCTO electronic presentation is not available yet, but from the presentations, I formed the conclusion that the committee members don’t yet know enough about skills development and how it works to ask the truly probing questions. For example, a lack of comment on any delay in uploads to the NLRD – something that has been mentioned as a problem on the skills-universe.

    There is also a lack of detail – and I formed an impression of a lack of ownership of the (SETA) QAPs – there was no follow up question asking what the “remediation” is – and when it will be complete. 

    There was also an apparent lack of responsibility for the SETA certification delays. The slide indicates that virtually all NAMB certification backlog is cleared.  But then verbally Mr Naidoo indicated that they had found out about certification backlogs in the TETA, EWSETA, CETA, FP&MSETA. The follow-up question I so wanted to ask was: well if you discovered that, did you investigate the certifications delays in all the other SETAs – and what are they?

    Fortunately, CEO Joyce Mashabela responded that all delays in certification need to be brought to the QCTO attention and they will resolve within 14 days – or provide a response in 14 days.

    So in conclusion, it is very important that all training service providers listen to the audio and what was said.  I am not sure that the expression “fly-by-night” as used, is clearly understood to indicate dishonest action and misrepresentation.

    In terms of the South African Constitution one has a right to choose individual economic activity.  If one decides to pass on via training or presentation one’s knowledge and experience – as long as there is no misrepresentation of registration or accreditation – we are all free to offer services to clients, which they feel will benefit their business and for which that they are prepared to pay. 

    To have such absolutely legitimate economic activity mislabelled as fraudulent, or casting aspersions on the integrity of the individual – I would suggest – provides a valid legal cause of action.  

    It is also cause for concern that the committee members are not receiving a sufficiently balanced view of the contribution being made quite honestly and legally by private providers.  Not all business needs are fulfilled via a full occupational qualification. However, they are no less business critical.

    Perhaps one or more of the professional bodies representing training providers should seek audience with the Higher Education Portfolio Committee to present the work of providers and their contribution to a functioning economy.

    It is heartening to see that in the SAQA presentation slide 35 (bottom centre): “Publish Policy… Guidelines for Learning that does not Lead to a Qualification or Part-Qualification”. 


    Open note to CEO Joe Samuels – please prioritise that action – we are going to need it.


    Finally, I would suggest that all training providers access the following links:

    • for the QCTO audio initially (– the PPT presentation and report will follow)


    • for the SAQA PPT presentation and audio (report to follow)


    I look forward to skills-universe members’ comments. 

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    Kerrin Badham

    Thank you Sylvia for your valuable report back. I had been wondering on the progress of the QCTO in registering and approving occupational qualifications.

    My company falls into the space of being a private training provider that offers essential and valuable skills training to business (and government) which does not lead to qualifications on the NQF. We are MICT SETA accredited though and are looking to add on NQF aligned material where it complements what we do and adds value.

    1. Is there a list of professional bodies that represent private training providers?
    2. Is there anyone championing the cause of private training providers to government?


    Irene James

    Hi Sylvia, this is absolutely AWESOME to hear – very well summarised, too. It was just the other week that I was bemoaning the QCTO’s lack of progression, so I am going to have to go back and rectify those statements 🙂 

    One of my REAL concerns, though, is that the QCTO is supposedly using the existing SETA verifiers.  If that is the case, the verifiers really need to be screened, and thoroughly investigated if they have had any appeals lodged against them – or else they are just going to perpetuate the rot. (For example, we have experienced a shocking verifier, whom we threw off site, only to find that he then applied to another SETA, and was appointed to conduct another verification at our premises.  Needless to say, he was given his marching orders on that occasion, too).

    I would strongly suggest, that, now that the QCTO is getting on track, they invite a huge number of reputable public and private providers to a two day workshop, insist that all the verifiers that they intend to use are also invited, and we jointly thrash out and agree to the standards that are and are not acceptable. And  the agreements need to be minuted and widely distributed. 

    That way, we may start off with an acceptable base of quality requirements, and not have to deal with these verifiers who make up their own rules, and apply them retrospectively (sometimes two years after the programme has closed out, because of the SETA’s tardiness in getting to the verification of the learning). 

    Louise Sterling

    Thanks for this clear summary Sylvia. On the topic of honest and good quality private providers, I work with high level corporate trainers and coaches. They command extremely high rates and their training is top notch. Most of them do not become accredited because their training programmes  cannot be squeezed into an existing unit standard and they would lose the heart of their programme if they attempted to do so. I have always been saddened by this, because the most innovative and cutting edge approaches to self and organisational development are then excluded from our formal education and training system. Many of these providers are registered with COMENSA. It would be wonderful if a more enabling pathway was opened up for them. I think it would have the effect of uplifting the quality of formal E+T.   

    Irene James

    Hi Louise – I agree.  That’s why one often has to “draai ‘n os daarbinne” to not only customise the accredited learning, but to ensure that it addresses the real needs of the organisation (being careful not to violate the principle of validity, of course!). – Hence the high prices – When properly researched (which includes site visits of clients) and presented, development work is time consuming.   “Goedkoop is duurkoop” comes to mind here.

    Having said that, I was fortunate enough to spend time with the QCTO development committee (hosted by the ETDP SETA) as they developed the new ECD qualification. A lot of effort and wide consultation with experienced candidates in the field goes into the development of these qualifications, in order to ensure that the appropriate theoretical, practical and workplace learning outcomes are identified.

    If all the development committees are chaired by the woman who chaired ours, (Her name was Kedibone)       I do believe that we are in for a suite of fabulous learning opportunities for businesses.

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