Skills Development Providers (SDPs) & Training Providers


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    Nigel Shipston

    In recent months a number of insidious situations have been exposed to daylight, revealing blinkered, single minded intent and a process of excluding pertinent stakeholders from decision making input regarding training matters.

    In both cases, the instigators have aligned themselves with interest groups whose direction cannot be described as consistent with training processes. In these processes they have rather deliberately presented themselves as “representative” of the industry, while carefully ensuring the exclusion of accredited training providers whose input would divert the intent away from the interest groups direction. More alarmingly, these representations have been accepted by the authorities (QCTO, SETA’s and DEL) without apparent interrogation of relative regulatory requirements and claims of representing an industry.

    In the first of these incidents, a non-statutory (voluntary) Professional Body is laying claim to a section of training which has for 15 years been incorporated into an established and regulated environment. The interest group which constitutes their “representation of industry” is made up of commercial interests with limited focus on training experience and effort. To highlight this situation, TETA has a list of some 187 training providers accredited in this field, with some 540 registered Assessors and 239 registered Moderators. Of these 187 training providers, only 5 have aligned themselves to this voluntary Professional Body. The remaining 182 training providers either have no interest in the Professional Body or are oblivious to their existence.

    In the second instance, a regulatory requirement was introduced some years ago, requiring training providers in this field to be accredited by a SETA and approved by DEL. For some years, training providers in this field were able to operate with the requisite Chief Inspector (OHS) Approval only. However, in 2017, the Chief Inspector issued a Notice requiring all training providers in this field to be accredited with a SETA, as a pre-requisite for Chief Inspector Approval. While this requirement was subject to a time limit which has been extended numerous times (3+ years), this extension has now come to an end.

    Unfortunately, a core of “concerned” persons, apparently representing those training providers previously Approved but not accredited have been making representation to the authorities (again, QCTO, SETA’s and DEL) where it is apparent that decisions are being made without input of the accredited providers being included. TETA alone has some 227 accredited training providers for the lower level in this field, with some 641 registered Assessors and 327 registered Moderators. TETA is but one of 6 SETA’s listed with this training within their scope and the SAQA website lists some 577 training providers in total for the relative unit standard.

    Once again, a non-statutory Professional Body has been used for the purposes of presenting a deliberately unbalanced view. To a large degree, I believe the relevant authorities have been swayed by misrepresented and unbalanced “facts”. While there is no indication as to the number of unaccredited training providers in this field, it is highly probable that the number of 577 accredited training providers is in a majority to those providers still to be accredited. The number of accredited training providers also belies any claims that attaining accreditation is an insurmountable obstacle. Supporting unaccredited training providers perpetuates a system where compliant (accredited) training providers find themselves at a distinct disadvantage in pricing when compared to prices offered by unaccredited providers who have not incurred the costs of accreditation and credibility.

    In both instances, much of the misrepresentation has been permitted by authorities not interrogating and validating claims of representation of an industry. If decisions are to be of any value to an industry or sector, is it not logical that the industry or sector as a whole be consulted? It is ludicrous that minority interest groups are able to dictate the direction of a majority who are effectively side-lined in “participatory” processes.

    The questions then are:
    1. Can Professional Bodies claim to be representative of the industry when pertinent input from directly involved training providers in the field have been excluded by intent or otherwise?
    2. Can decisions regarding training be made and presented to authorities without the significant input of these training providers, whose core focus is, after all, training?
    3. Why would DEL use regulatory processes to bolster Professional Bodies non-statutory status when the field in question is part of an established regulatory system?
    4. Is DEL an empowering authority for private non-statutory bodies who claim representation in their field without including input and support from a larger, more pertinent majority who have been kept at arm’s length during these processes?

    In summary, why has the tail been allowed to wag the dog? Before these wayward decisions become a fait accompli, should we not bring in to pasture all those until now kept in the dark?

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