By Natanya Rutstein

With the establishment of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) in 2008 the aim was to move towards a National Quality Assurance System to ensure the standerdisation of all processes in respect of qualifications and part-qualifications for trades and occupations registered on the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF). It has however been a journey fraught with obstacles and complications largely due to financial and internal capacity constraints hampering the QCTOs ability to fulfil its mandate. Hence the QCTO delegation of its quality assurance functions to the SETAs in respect of all historically registered qualifications. The work of the SETAs in this regard has been extremely diverse and marked with administrative complexity and inefficiency.

The 2014 White Paper on Post-School Education and Training (WP-PSET) set out various strategies to improve the capacity of the post-school education and training system in order to meet the needs of our country. Central to the WP-SET is the need for deliberate articulation of qualifications between the three NQF Sub-Frameworks to remove barriers to acceptance, entry, credit transfer and to create learning pathways to facilitate lifelong learning. The WP-SET also advocated the use of nationally standerdised external assessments for all qualifications and part-qualifications in order to reveal poor performance and guarantee a truly national standard of achievement. The National Skills Development Plan 2030 which took effect on 1 March 2020 gives effect to the WP-SET strategy to streamline and simplify the quality assurance functions and effectively revokes the SETAs authority in relation to all quality assurance functions previously delegated to them.

What are the implications of this for historically registered qualifications?

Quality Assurance of Historically Registered Qualifications – Qualifications which have not been re-aligned and replaced with occupational qualifications will remain valid and may be offered until such time as they are either replaced or reach the end date of their registration period (June 2023). Quality Assurance for the realigned qualifications will be transferred from the SETA to the QCTO.

Accreditation of Skills Development Providers (SDPs) – Accreditation of SDPs offering these qualifications must be transferred to the QCTO by 1 March 2020.

Quality Assurance of Assessments –From 1 March 2020 the QCTO will take responsibility for the quality assurance of assessments for historically registered qualifications. For the lifespan of the historically registered qualifications, the QCTO will implement a compulsory Final Integrated Summative Assessment which has replaced the Portfolio of Evidence (PoE). Qualifications which have been fully realigned will have an external integrated summative assessment (EISA) in line with the QCTA assessment model. All assessment centres offering the FISA or EISA must be accredited with the QCTO.

Certification – All certificates must be issued by the QCTO

The QCTO published its revised policy for the OQSF on 2 March 2020 which further aims to give effect to the NSDP 2030 through the simplification of its systems for learners, SDPs, employees and employers alike. The Occupational Certificate on levels 1-8 has been replaced by a new set of eight occupational qualification types using similar nomenclature to that on the Higher Education Qualifications Framework. The policy aims to strengthen articulation of all qualifications on the OQSF and between the OQSF and the other two sub-frameworks enabling learners to discover future progression routes paving the way to lifelong learning.

Hopefully this new regulatory landscape will give rise to quality standerdised national occupational qualifications and part-qualifications which not only put an end to repetition and dead ends for students but which also achieve the vision set in the NSDP of an educated, skilled and capable workforce for South Africa.


Natanya Rutstein
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