Posted on: July 29, 2011 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

South Africa is delegating some trade and occupational qualifications design and assessment to private bodies, replacing ETQAs and some Setas functions.

The Quality Council on Trades and Occupations (QCTO), which is the vocational training agency in the NQF and SAQA framework, adopted a policy on delegation of trade and occupational qualification design and assessment, to development quality partners (DQPs) and assessment quality partners (AQPs), in July 2011.

Tertiary education remains under the Council for Higher Education (CHE), and school level training remains under Umalusi, while QCTO rules on occupational training. QCTO is replacing ETQAs, which would be scrapped, and gradually taking over some Setas functions.

QCTO acting executive officer Ms Adrienne Bird said some training quality assurance duties would remain with SETAs, where they are currently performed. SAQA had already registered a number of occupational qualifications on the NQF, which are quality assured by SETAs.

Some Setas would continue to accredit training quality providers. The Department of Labour has no skills development functions, since removal of DOL skills functions and sills funding functions to the DHET in early 2011.

Some QCTO pilot projects would focus on aligning training standards nationally, replacing sectoral standards. One of the Setas would convene Seta officials to align training standards across various occupations.

QCTO chairperson Wilson Nzimande said QCTO functions would be established by late 2011, while staffing and capacity constraints were being addressed. QCTO board members are;

Wilson Nzimande, QCTO chair, of Coastal KZN FET College
Adrienne Bird, acting EO, former DOL skills development head
Sam Isaacs, SAQA EO
Firoz Pate, NSA EO
Prof Rolf Stump, CHE acting CEO
Dr Mafu Rakometsi, Umalusi CEO
Bonny Marekwa, Popcru, representing Nedlac
Ecliff Tantsi, NUM,representing Nedlac
Stella Carthy, Nedlac business sector
Willie Matthiae, Nedlac business sector
Thulane Mabuza, Nedlac community organisations
Francis Malesela Maleka, Nedlac community organisations
Dr Bheki Mahlobo, public education and training providers
Dr Marina le Grange, private training providers
Elizabeth Thobejane, government
Dr Julius Nyalunga, government

QCTO functions and delegation

QCTO functions, in terms of the Skills Development Act section 26H, are;
(1) Advise the Minister on matters of policy concerning occupational standards and qualifications
(2) Perform functions in terms of the SDA and NQF Act
(3) Subject to any policy issued by the Minister, the QCTO is responsible for;
(a) establishing and maintaining occupational standards and qualifications
(b) quality assurance of occupational standards and qualifications, and learning in and for the workplace
(c) designing and developing occupational standards and qualifications and submitting them to the Saqa for registration on the National Qualifications Framework
(d) ensuring quality of occupational standards and qualifications and learning in and for the workplace
(e) promoting NQF objectives
(f) liaising with the National Skills Authority on suitability and adequacy of occupational qualifications standards and qualifications and on the quality of learning in for the workplace
(g) liaising with Saqa, other Quality Councils and professional bodies responsible for establishing standards and quality assurance of standards and qualifications.

SAQA and Quality Councils (QCs) may delegate functions bodies capable of performing the function or employees. Section 26I (1) of the Skills Development Act (SDA) specifies that the QCTO may delegate any of its functions to;
(a) QCTO CEO
(b) a committee of the QCTO
(c) national artisan moderation body established in terms of Section 26A of SDA
(d) a SETA
(e) any suitable body.

Bodies to which the QCTO delegates functions are termed Quality Partners (i.e. Development Quality Partners (DQPs) and Assessment Quality Partners (AQPs).

Occupational qualification development

Development Quality Partners must, in respect of relevant occupation/s;
• Appoint a Qualifications Development Facilitator (QDF) to facilitate development of occupational qualification/s
• Coordinate design, development and/or revision of specified occupational standards and qualifications and/or part qualifications according to the QCTO procedure
• Deliver to the QCTO these documents:
(i) occupational qualification document
(ii) curriculum document, including recommended criteria for accreditation of skills development providers
(iii) external assessment specifications document
(iv) qualification development process report
• Report to the QCTO on the performance of its functions in the SLA
• Collaborate with QCTO on the evaluation of this process
• Recognise qualifications or part qualifications registered on the NQF which shall carry credit towards the achievement of one or more of the curriculum components
• Provide a mechanism for RPL
• Appoint a learner qualification development facilitator with a view to enhance equity and to be trained in the facilitation of occupational qualification development.

Development quality partners criteria

Development Quality Partners (DQPs) must;
• be recommended by stakeholders in a QCTO facilitated scoping meeting
• have human resources necessary to perform the DQP functions as specified in this policy
• have access to communities of expert practitioners in the occupation/s
• have financial resources to perform its functions, verified by a letter by its relevant authority committing the necessary financial resources to fund the DQP function
• confirm that effective, efficient and transparent financial management and internal control systems are in place
• be willing to sign the QCTO Code of Conduct (Schedule 3) if delegation is approved
• submit a valid tax clearance certificate where appropriate.

QCTO obligations to DQPs

The QCTO will;
(a) upon receipt of all required documentation specified in the application criteria, and payment of the required fees for processing the application, the QCTO will evaluate the application and revert to the applicant in a time frame as specified in the operational procedures;
(b) make publicly available the list of registered qualifications development facilitators (QDFs);
(c) promote equity in training of learner development facilitators as well as registration of qualification development facilitators;
(d) upon delegation to a DQP, the QCTO will give access to the NOPF system at a prescribed fee;
(e) monitor and evaluate the execution of DQP functions;
(f) evaluate and, where standards are met, recommend occupational qualifications and/or part qualifications received from the DQP to SAQA for registration;
(g) maintain a register of accepted curricula documents and assessment Specifications
(h) promote occupational qualifications and/or part qualifications registered on the sub framework for trades and occupations;
(i) make available curricula to QCTO accredited skills development providers;
(j) evaluate the qualification development process itself;
(k) consult with the DQP prior to exercising its powers;
(l) monitor adherence to the QCTO Code of Conduct for DQPs.

Occupational qualifications quality assurance

Assessment Quality Partners must, in respect of relevant occupations;
(a) develop, maintain and apply a national data bank of instruments for external assessment;
(b) develop and publish exemplars of external assessments;
(c) coordinate and manage external assessment processes;
(d) develop and maintain a national database of registered assessors and moderators from which assessors/moderators for the external summative assessments will be selected;
(e) record learner achievements;
(f) develop criteria for accreditation of assessment centres or approval of assessment sites;
(g) recommend to the QCTO assessment centres for registration;
(h) make recommendations to QCTO on withdrawal of accreditation of an assessment centre;
(i) recommend to the QCTO accreditation of skills development providers for knowledge and/or practical skills component using criteria and guidelines provided by QCTO;
(j) verify that SETA workplace approval systems meet the standards set in the workplace experience curriculum component against the criteria and guidelines provided by the QCTO;
(k) implement an appeals policy as guided by an assessment policy;
(l) upload learner assessment achievements to the QCTO;
(m) recommend the certification of learners to the QCTO;
(n) ensure systems are in place to detect and address irregularities;
(o) conduct learner tracer studies;
(p) advise the QCTO as to the recognition of qualifications and part qualifications from other sub frameworks;
(q) promote continuous professional development of AQP associated practitioners;
(r) report to the QCTO on performance of its functions in a prescribed manner;
(s) collaborate with QCTO on the evaluation of the assessment and moderation processes; and
(t) moderate at least 10% of learner assessments.
• Recognise part qualifications as/towards the achievement of one or more of the curriculum components.
• Provide for RPL assessment to enable learners to achieve full or part recognition for one or more of the curriculum components and where full recognition is given then enable the learners to access the final summative assessment.

AQPs criteria

Assessment Quality Partners must;
(a) be recommended to the QCTO by the relevant CEP within the DQP occupational development process at a point when they submit an occupational profile.
(b) have access to communities of expert practitioners in the occupation/s concerned;
(c) have standing in the occupation or occupations concerned;
(d) have access to assessors and other human resources necessary to perform the AQP functions using criteria and guidelines provided by the QCTO;
(e) have access to a reliable information management system in a format required by QCTO;
(f) have the financial resources necessary to establish the AQP function and implement effective, efficient and transparent financial management and internal control systems, verified by means of a written commitment by its relevant authority;
(g) have a proposed fee structure funding model to maintain the delivery of AQP services for a minimum of five years aligned to the QCTO Fee Structure Policy;
(h) be willing to sign the QCTO Code of Conduct (Schedule 4) if delegation is approved;
(i) have research capacity even if through a third party arrangement; and
(j) submit a valid tax clearance certificate where appropriate.

Upon approval the QCTO will sign a Service Level Agreement (SLA) (Annexure B) with the Assessment Quality Partner to perform the functions as specified in this policy for a period, not exceeding five years, which may be extended by the QCTO if it so determines.

In some cases provisional approval will be granted by the QCTO for a limited time period. The conditions to be met for full approval will be specified as part of the signing of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the Assessment Quality Partner.

QCTO obligations to AQPs

The QCTO will accredit skills development provider programmes on the advice of the relevant AQP, accredit assessment centres and register assessment sites, maintain a database of accredited and provisionally accredited skills development providers, assessment centres and registered and provisionally registered assessment sites, as well as issue certificates for occupational qualifications.

QCTO fees

The QCTO may charge fees for;
(a) evaluation of applications for delegation
(b) access to the NOPF system
(c) the registration of qualification development facilitators
(d) evaluation of occupational qualifications and/or part qualifications
(e) publication of occupational qualifications and/or part qualifications
(f) the accreditation of providers including the right to use the curriculum
(g) the accreditation of assessment centres and sites
(h) certification of learners
(i) such other service as the QCTO, after consultation, determines.

During the transition period special measures will enable currently registered skills development providers to attain accreditation in terms of the QCTO accreditation requirements.

Qualification articulation to be stated

Qualification developers and part qualification developers must state;
• Occupation OFO Code Specialisation
• Stakeholders to be involved
• Existing qualification and/or qualification components and/or part qualifications to be considered
• Access routes from qualifications in the same family on the NOPF
• Progression routes to the qualification

DQP code of conduct

• Promote NQF objectives.
• Deal fairly, professionally and equitably with stakeholders while accelerating redress of past unfair discrimination.
• Consult relevant stakeholders that have an interest in development and assessment of occupational qualifications and sharing of best practice.
• Execute responsibilities and accountabilities timeously and with due regard to the accountability to our constituents that we are committed to serve.
• Seek to create a positive environment for the development and assessment process and respect the historical diversity of learners’ cultural, linguistic and educational backgrounds.
• Declare conflict of interest that infringe on the execution of our delegated responsibilities.
• Recuse from decision-making processes that may result in improper personal gain that will impact negatively on the values cherished by the QCTO.
• Recognise public rights of access to information, excluding information that is specifically protected by the law.
• Act in a manner that will respect, promote and protect the goodwill and reputation of occupational qualification family.
• Report relevant information about best practices and irregularities in the development and assessment process of which we become aware.

QCTO terminology

• Accredited skills development provider means a provider of occupational learning accredited by the QCTO
• Assessment centre means a centre accredited by the QCTO for the purpose of conducting external summative assessments for specified registered occupational qualifications
• Assessment Quality Partner means a body delegated by the QCTO to develop assessment instruments and manage external summative assessment of specific occupational qualifications
• Assessment site means any site selected as suitable to conduct the external summative assessment for a specified occupational qualification or qualifications where the relevant qualification assessment specifications do not require the use of an accredited assessment centre
• Assessor means a person registered by an Assessment Quality Partner for the purposes of conducting external assessment for occupational qualifications
• Community of expert practitioners (CEPs) means a group of people qualified in the relevant occupation with a minimum of at least 5 years minimum number of current relevant years of experience in that particular occupation or are recognised by the practitioners of the occupation as experts
• Development Quality Partner means a body delegated by the QCTO to manage the process of developing specific occupational qualifications, curricula and assessment specifications
• DHET refers to the Department of Higher Education and Training;
• Learner qualifications development facilitator means a qualifications development facilitator in training
• National artisan moderating body (NAMB) means the body established as per section 26A of the Skills Development Act (Act 97 of 1998)
• National occupational pathway framework (NOPF) means a management tool for the QCTO to ensure that qualifications are not developed in isolation, but in a manner to facilitate progression pathways for learners between related occupational qualifications at different levels on the NQF
• Occupational qualification means a qualification associated with a trade, occupation or profession, resulting from work-based learning and consisting of knowledge unit standards, practical unit standards and work experience unit standards as defined in the Skills Development Act and has an external summative assessment
• Occupational qualifications framework (OQF) means the sub-framework for trades and occupations as contemplated in Section 4 of the NQF Act
• Organizing framework for occupations (OFO) means a skill-based coded classification system, which aims to encompass all occupations in South Africa, used as a tool to collect, analyse and report on occupational information
• Part qualification means an assessed unit of learning that is registered on the NQF as a part qualification
• QCTO means the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations established in terms of section 26G of the Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act No. 97 of 1998)
• Qualification development facilitator means a person registered by the QCTO to facilitate the development of occupational qualifications
• Qualification Sub-framework for Trades and Occupations means the sub-framework on which occupational qualifications are registered. This sub-framework forms part of a single integrated NQF system as contemplated in Chapter 2 of the NQF Act
• SAQA means the South African Qualifications Authority contemplated in Chapter 4 of the NQF Act, 2008 (Act No.67 of 2008)
• SDA means the Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act No. 97 of 1998)
• SETA means a Sector Education Training Authority established in terms of section 9 of the SDA, 1998
• SLA means Service Level Agreement as contemplated in annexures A and B of this Document
• Stakeholders envisaged in the DQP SLA mean those with direct interest in the occupation concerned includes but is not limited to the following: employers of that occupation or relevant employer associations, unions with membership in that occupation, professional bodies or occupational associations, industry bodies, education and training providers who would deliver one or more of the components.

QCTO acronyms

• AQP Assessment Quality Partner
• CEP Community of Expert Practitioner
• CESM Classification of Education Subject Matter
• CHE Council for Higher Education
• DHET Department of Higher Education & Training
• DQP Development Quality Partner
• FL Foundational Learning
• FLC Foundational Learning Competence
• GFETQF General and Further Education and Training Qualifications sub-Framework
• HEQF Higher Education Qualifications sub-Framework
• ILO International Labour Organisation
• ISCO International Standard Classification of Occupations
• MIS Management Information System
• NAMB National Artisan Moderating Body
• NOPF National Occupational Pathway Framework
• NQF National Qualifications Framework
• OFO Organising Framework for Occupations
• OQF Occupational Qualifications sub-Framework
• QC Quality Council
• QCTO Quality Council for Trades and Occupations
• QDF Qualifications Development Facilitator
• QMS Quality Management System
• RPL Recognition of Prior Learning
• SAQA South African Qualifications Authority
• SASCO South African Standard Classification of Occupations
• SDA Skills Development Act
• SETA Sector Education and Training Authority

PHOTO; QCTO acting CEO, Adrienne Bird. Some training quality assurance duties would remain with SETAs, where they are currently performed, while QCTO takes over some Setas functions, and all ETQA functions.

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