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Skills development changes on the horizon

7th July 2023

By: Nadine Ramdass

Creamer Media Writer

     

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A significant shift, as of June 30, has occurred in the adult-based education and training sector, owing to the start of the transitional phase of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations’ (QCTO’s) new skills development accreditation process.

As a result, all legacy qualifications and singular unit standards previously prescribed under the sector education and training authority (Seta) will be phased out.

QCTO accreditation is a mandatory requirement (as per Government Gazette – No 43062, March 2, 2020) and is effective from June 30, 2023.

However, training providers have until June 30, 2024, to transition from Seta to QCTO accreditation. Therefore, the last date of enrolment under Seta accreditation will be June 30, 2024, and anyone wishing to enrol learners or employees for skills development thereafter will need to be QCTO-accredited.

Therefore, training and skills development providers are encouraged to follow the QCTO process as soon as possible.

While various curricula for qualifications and skills programmes have been in development since 2015, the QCTO has moved forward with over 350 qualifications and skills programmes approved for accreditation.

As part of these changes, skills development will now be approached through skills programmes or certified qualifications as opposed to singular unit standard programmes says Dekra Institute of Learning (IoL) head of training and consulting Christopher Mörsner.

While awareness programmes and short courses add value to employees, the courses are not often viewed as beneficial from a skills development perspective.
The shift will have a positive impact on the industrial sector, as the QCTO’s approach will standardise training, ensuring that individuals are equipped with the required skills and experience to meet the requirements of a wide variety of industries, he explains.

Through the curriculum, the QCTO has prioritised theoretical, practical, and workplace experience components. This will ensure that individuals can perform using skills acquired within a workplace environment – resulting in an effective, practical understanding and skill set.

He emphasises the importance of adhering to the new QCTO accreditation process, as it will ensure a safer and more practical working environment.

A significant challenge regarding the change is a lack of awareness, however. Many providers are not aware of the change over to the QCTO process, or are not aware what the shift entails.

Further, despite the advantages of the system, Mörsner says that there may be resistance from various industries.

Another challenge impacting on the skills development and training industry is complying with the new regulations and accreditation requirements, which can be a tedious and expensive process.

Skills providers are responsible for ensuring that they meet the requirements of the QCTO process, and that their skills training offering is aligned to these requirements. Further, skills providers will need to be accredited by the QCTO to enable them to continue trading.

Mörsner cautions that adopting the QCTO process might result in much frustration for many skills providers because of the arduous administrative requirements associated with making the shift. There is also a need for more clarity on how skills providers can adapt to the QCTO accreditation process.

He warns that if skills providers are not fully supported by the QCTO and the training industry, it could result in uncertified training centres continuing to offer skills development training that is not accredited and not fully aligned with the requirements of particular industry sectors.

In a worst-case scenario, individuals could be trained for a particular skillset without having the necessary practical or workplace experience.

Further, if the process is not properly facilitated from the outset, it could result in skills providers having to close down, which, in turn, would result in a ripple effect, with more inadequately skilled individuals and a higher unemployment rate.

Mörsner emphasises the need for the QCTO to educate all stakeholders on the new skills development process.

In this regard, the Dekra IoL is conducting workshops and awareness campaigns to educate stakeholders and provide guidelines for compliance, in addition to a successful accreditation drive. The guidelines aim to support smaller skills providers and assist them in meeting the requirements of the QCTO without the need for costly consultants.

“It is a tedious and strenuous process to meet all the obligations of the QCTO. We have streamlined this, thereby affording small skills providers a cost-saving opportunity by educating them, so they can do it themselves,” he concludes.

Edited by Nadine James
Features Deputy Editor

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