April 17, 2024

Skills development – a new era beckons

3 min read

As the deadline of 30 June approaches for the registration of legacy learnerships, companies must ensure they are prepared for the seismic shift in the skills development landscape. This pivotal moment marks the end of an era for historical learnerships and signals the coming-of-age for the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) Occupational Certificates.

Rajan Naidoo, managing director of EduPower Skills Academy, says that businesses striving to remain at the forefront of workforce development need to ensure they are ready for this transition. He believes the shift to QCTO Occupational Certificates will be easier for those companies that have done their homework. “To date, not all SETA–accredited learnerships have equivalent NQF level occupational qualifications, so companies need to register their learners as soon as possible if they want to access the same learnerships they have used to upskill and build their talent pools in the past,” he advises.

What’s different?

SETA–accredited learnerships have long been the cornerstone of skills development initiatives, fine-tuned over the years to align with industry standards and requirements. These learnerships have offered a comprehensive framework that combines theoretical knowledge with practical experience, resulting in qualifications that are both recognised and valued as they open doors to employment opportunities.

Naidoo is excited about the move to QCTO Occupational Certificates, as it represents a shift toward more specialised and industry-aligned qualifications. “These certificates offer a better alignment between training and industry needs, as they deliver a more targeted and relevant skillset. This will result in improved employability for the learner and increased productivity for the employer.”

Preparation is everything

As companies prepare for the change, Naidoo highlights three key questions they should be asking to ensure a smooth transition:

1. Is your training provider accredited by the QCTO?

It’s essential to partner with a training provider that has received QCTO accreditation. This confirms the training provider’s legitimacy and compliance with regulatory standards and quality assurance protocols. If your training provider is not yet accredited, you may have issues with the continuity of your training programme, as the accreditation process generally takes from several months to a year to complete.

2. Have the qualifications offered by the training provider been accredited by the QCTO?

It’s not only your training provider that has to receive QCTO accreditation. Each point of delivery has to be accredited too, and a rigorous process ensures the credibility and standardisation of the qualification. Learning material is assessed on curriculum relevance, training delivery, assessment methods and compliance with regulatory requirements. Once accredited, employers and learners are assured that the qualification delivers the necessary skills and knowledge for the chosen occupation.

3. Will the transition from legacy learnerships to QCTO Occupational Certificates impact my training programmes?

To be honest, there are probably going to be some teething problems, but your training provider should be able to predict most of these and have an action plan to ensure continuity and alignment with your organisational goals. Key elements should include aligning the curriculum comprehensively with QCTO standards and upskilling the team. It’s also crucial to establish clear communication channels with learners and regularly assess their readiness for certification. Adapting to regulatory changes is also a must, all while prioritising quality assurance and learner support. It may sound like a tall order, but these should be part of the standard operating procedures for a credible training provider.

Welcoming the change

The deadline of 30 June marks a significant milestone in the evolution of skills development in South Africa. Naidoo is of the opinion that companies should welcome the transition and use this as an opportunity to position themselves as leaders in industry-aligned training.

“Skills development is at a crossroads. Those companies that act decisively and proactively will successfully adapt to this new era. The transition may pose some challenges but, overall, the move promises a more efficient, industry-responsive training landscape, empowering learners with practical, in-demand skills for the workforce of tomorrow,” he concludes.

Image credit: Freepik

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