From SAQA to SETAs: QCTO will impact skills development

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The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations will affect companies with active skills development programmes.

In less than six months, there will be a major shift in the South African skills development space, which will have significant implications for organisations and their workforces. This is due to the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) becoming the primary body responsible for the accreditation, implementation, assessment, and certification of occupational qualifications, part-qualifications, and skills programmes from June 2023.

Since its establishment in 2010, the QCTO has been responsible for the design, assessment, and certification of trades and other occupational qualifications under the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF).

Although the QCTO aims at ensuring that South Africa has a skilled workforce, thereby contributing to job creation and economic growth, many organisations remain unclear about how these new standards will affect them and their employees. Delays in the rollout of the new system have only added to the confusion.

Siphelele Kubheka, managing director at Skills Growth and head of learnerships & B-BBEE strategy at HyperionDev, tackles a few of the QCTO must-knows for HR.

The QCTO and where it fits in

The QCTO is a government organisation established in 2010 under the Skills Development Act (Act 97 of 1998) as amended in 2008. It is one of several quality councils responsible for overseeing the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) in South Africa.

The QCTO works with various stakeholders, including employers, industry bodies, and education and training providers, to ensure that occupational qualifications meet the needs of the economy and are of high quality.

What changes from June 2023

It’s been more than a decade in the making, but the QCTO has gradually been building capacity as a stand-alone institution to take over its mandated functions from the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

According to the QCTO, “the registration end date for all ‘historical’ qualifications is 30 June 2023, with a phase-out period of one year for learners to still enrol up to and including 30 June 2024”, after which it will be necessary to move over to occupationally directed qualifications.

Training, assessments, moderations, and achievements on these qualifications will only continue with learners registered before 30 June 2024. A teach-out period will facilitate learners enrolled before 30 June 2024 until 30 June 2027, but statements of results and certificates will no longer be issued post 30 June 2027.

Renewed focus on specific skills

The new QCTO qualifications are intended to be more targeted and specific to the occupational profile of the learners, which is intended to enhance the quality of the training and qualifications.

By designing qualifications that are more closely aligned with the specific skills and knowledge needed for a particular occupation, the QCTO aims to ensure that learners are better prepared for the workplace and have the skills and knowledge needed to contribute to the economy. This approach is intended to benefit not only the learners themselves but also employers, industry bodies, and the economy as a whole.

Implications and immediate actions for HR

All Sector and Training Authorities (SETAs) will report to the QCTO, and while SETAs are licensed until 2030 and will continue with their current responsibilities, they will also have additional responsibilities as Development Quality Partners (DQP) and Assessment Quality Partners (AQP) for occupational qualifications.

In addition, the duration of some learnerships will be increased to two years, and in some cases, five years.

It’s critical for Skills Development Providers (SDPs) to get accredited and align themselves with AQPs to move from the SETA space to the QCTO space as soon as possible.

This is especially important for companies that rely on skills development programmes for B-BBEE level points.

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