April 23, 2024

The Evolving Landscape of Skills Development

Have you heard about the recent changes in the Skills Development Element?

The QCTO (Quality Council for Trades and Occupations) identified a need for change due to the increasing unemployment crisis in South Africa, as the current education system is failing to produce the necessary skills at a sufficient speed and scale. In order to create a more innovative system for skills development, it is necessary to change how we approach the process. The QCTO changes will bring about changes to the historical SETA system and impose a uniform skills development ecosystem. The QCTO is preparing the foundation for transformation in the skills development sector by implementing a single national quality assurance system for accredited occupational qualifications and skills programmes. Thus, the QCTO will facilitate the development and registration of quality-assured occupational and trade-related qualifications. This merged system should provide identical criteria to assure consistency in skills and knowledge across all emerging and established sectors.


The difference between the QCTO and the SETA system:

  • One of the key differences is that QCTO qualifications are standardised across all sectors, meaning your qualification will be recognised in all other sectors.
  • QCTO certifications will align with current NQF levels – normally available at National Certificate (Level 4) or National Diploma (Level 5) level. This increases the legitimacy and job market relevance of all certifications.
  • The QCTO will offer a diverse range of certifications comprised of three components for all trades and occupations. The QCTO has established over 350 qualifications and skills programmes approved for accreditation. The three components will include a knowledge component, a practical workplace component, and finally an External Integrated Summative Assessment. This contrasts with the SETA system learnerships which comprised of two components – 30% classroom time and 70% work experience.

In essence, the transition from SETA to QCTO occupational certificates is motivated to ensure high-quality and relevant certifications to satisfy workplace standards and to simplify the registration and accreditation process for training providers.


The future for the SETA system

It is important to note that although the QCTO was initially anticipated to replace the SETAs, this is unlikely to happen as the SETAs are licensed until 2030. They will continue with annual ATR/WSP, allocation of grants and funding, learnership and the phasing out of legacy qualifications. Under the QCTO, the SETAs will have additional responsibilities such as Degree Qualification Profile (DQP) and Assessment Quality Partners (AQP) for occupational qualifications. Businesses should note that all learner information be handed in by 20 June 2024, to ensure registration before the 30th June 2024.


The expected timeline for the change

Be advised that the changeover has already begun – since the inception of QCTO in 2010. As of June 2023, the transitional phase-out period of SETA legacy qualifications is effective, and the new skills development accreditation following the QCTO process has already commenced. There is a one-year grace period for all training providers, as the last enrolment date under SETA accreditation will be 30 June 2024, following a 3-year teach-out period for all enrolments. This means that from 1 July 2024, all qualifications under the SETA system will no longer be recognised and all learnership registration will take place under the QCTO system. It is the responsibility of skills providers to meet the new requirements set out by the QTCO process. The importance of adherence to the new accreditation process is emphasised to create a safer and more practical working environment.


The changes being implemented have the potential to not only significantly impact your skills development plan reporting to the SETA, but also your BEE scorecard. It is important to consider these changes carefully and take any necessary steps to ensure that your company remains compliant and achieves its desired outcomes.

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