Update on the Quality council for Trades and occupations (QCTO)

By dessquire, 29 May, 2012

At a recent meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Higher Education the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) outlined its role and function.

In terms of it’s mandate the QCTO is required to advise the Minister on policy matters, design, development and maintenance of occupational standards, quality assurance of the qualifications, and promotion of the National Qualifications Framework.

The QCTO stressed that it wished to ensure that every qualification offered was of relevance in the market place and would ensure employment of those who took those qualifications.

There were three components to the curriculum, namely theoretical knowledge, simulation (practical application) and the actual work experience, and it was working with a variety of industry related partners to develop the model and ensure industry’s buy-in.

It was busy updating the N-subjects, trying to achieve better alignment and assessing the numerous qualifications. It was trying to ensure a smooth transition and phase-out of surplus qualifications, and to review what the Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) had done in the past.

Another area of work was Recognition of Prior Learning. For both this and “workplace training”, there were a variety of different interpretation and it was necessary to find a common understanding.

The QCTO said that its biggest challenge was funding, as it had only enough money to pay staff salaries, had no staff who could attend to accreditation themselves, and insufficient budget to implement programmes.

Of particular not is that members of the committee were concerned about the funding shortages, and wanted to see QCTO being able to implement programmes. However, a number of members found the presentation unclear and sought clarity on the exact role of the QCTO, the possible duplication across the quality councils, whether the process was still in its transitional phases, and commented that, in respect of a number of issues, no time frames were set out.

They commented that without these, it would be very difficult for the Committee to exercise oversight. Members were not sure how QCTO would take over some functions from the South African Qualifications Authority, if it would be dealing directly with the Sector Education and Training Authorities, whether service providers would be registered and what control would be exercised over them.

A Member wondered if the different quality assurers were still relevant and commented on lack of synergy in respect of quality. Members also asked about the Board, expressed concern that some people were serving on a multiplicity of boards, wondered how the QCTO would ensure transformation in the system, and how and when it would market itself.

Report summarised by Des Squire - full report available on




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