Training and development in South Africa has reached a point where it is more dynamic than it has ever been. The restructuring and merging of tertiary institutions is echoed by the review of apprenticeships – with learnerships as the result.
Learnerships are the new buzzword for training courses. A dynamic way of teaching, the learnerships offer candidates an opportunity to learn in a real work environment – rather than having a purely academic approach to learning. An added benefit of this is that the candidate gains valuable work experience while training.
Learnerships are designed to take place over a period of one to three years, and is structured to include aspects of formal education and practical training.
The learnership entails intense planning and facilitation from both the employer and the relevant Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA). A programme needs to be implemented wherein the employee is trained under a mentor, and has other trainers and assessors available at all times.
The Learnership programme has been slow to be implemented, but many companies have grasped the concept – and shown how beneficial learnerships can be if they are afforded the necessary time and effort.
Benefits to the Employer:
The contract between employee and employer is for a fixed term, and the employer is under no obligation to hire the candidate if he does not wish to. This way the employer can view the candidate in the work environment, and can view how he/she interacts with other employees, how punctual they are, how seriously they take their work, and the like, and decide if the candidate fits the criteria set by the company.
Learnerships also offer companies an opportunity to fulfill their gender and race equity targets.
Tax rebates are offered by government in order to motivate companies to implement learnerships.
The rebate offered is R37 500 per learner seen through to qualification by the company. Municipalities and government departments are excluded as they do not pay company tax
This training policy also applies to existing employees, who can be upskilled.
The company can be assured of the quality of the candidate they employ due to the stringent assessment and certification of the candidates.
Learnerships have added to the idea of a traditional apprenticeship by allowing workers to train in fields such as Information Technology and Banking instead of only artisan’s fields. Learnerships offer a holistic approach to training – teaching the learner life skills coupled with practical and theory.
For further information, you can contact the LGSETA ( www.lgseta.co.za )
RECOGNITION OF PRIOR LEARNING
Experience does carry weight in education and training:
South Africa is a constantly changing and developing nation. There have been changes in everything from a complete shift in government, to more open-minded views on issues ranging from HIV and AIDS to employment equity in the workplace. It seems fitting, then, that there is restitution for those who were unable to benefit from various levels of education when they applied for jobs or were seeking advancement in their current company. The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) has implemented a policy that will enable South Africa to utilize the true potential of its human capital. The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) policy will ensure that people who were in any way or form unable to access education and training in the past will now have the chance to do so.
Formal Education has always carried a greater weight than education gained through experience. The RPL policy offers the opportunity to remedy this situation, and people are now able to have their learning acknowledged – whether they obtained it formally, informally or experientially. However, RPL is definitely not the easy way of learning a qualification. The people who apply need to meet all the requirements of the qualification they wish to possess.
The underlying principles include the following:
- Fair access to education and training programmes for all individuals who wish to further their learning,
- Redressing past unfair education practices that prevented people from studying further, and
- Recognising and crediting learning in relation to formal qualifications and unit standards where people already have attained the learning through informal and non-formal means.
In order to protect the integrity and standards of education and training, the policy lists quality assurance mechanisms for the implementation of RPL. These include quality assurance of the following:
• Institutional policies of providers offering RPL services,
• The services and support for people requesting recognition of their prior learning,
• The training and registration of assessors and support staff who deal with RPL,
• The methods and processes for the assessment of prior learning,
• The moderation of RPL processes and assessment,
• The fees charged for RPL services, and
• Curricula and the inclusion of RPL
The RPL Implementation Guide:
The Criteria and Guidelines for the Implementation of RPL supply the education and training provider with guidelines regarding the implementation of RPL. These guidelines include the following:
- Conducting a pre-implementation audit that helps to identify the environment within which RPL will be implemented, the purpose and the target group(s) for RPL.
- Developing a sector/provider specific plan for the implementation of RPL.
- Building the capacity of education and training institutions, staff and resources.
- Designing fit-for-purpose assessment methodologies and instruments.
- Developing moderation measures in terms of the overall process, as well as assessment and assessment results.
Who is eligible for RPL?
Those who may benefit from RPL are the following people who:
- Have never attended formal schooling but who have experience of work and life,
- Have not finished formal education but who have learnt a great deal in their workplaces,
- Lack the minimum requirements for entry into formal learning programmes, but who believe that they meet those requirements through their informal learning,
- Are under-qualified and want to up-skill and improve their qualifications,
- Have attended short courses, but do not have a formal qualification in the particular area, and
- Have taught themselves, e.g. how to service motor vehicles
How is Prior Learning recognized?
Prior learning can be recognized and credited through an appropriate form of assessment which may nclude the following:
- Challenge examinations
- Assignments or projects
- Demonstration of skills
- Validation of previous certificates
- A combination of the above
Such assessments always use a registered NQF qualification as a benchmark. The process usually entails the following:
• Identifying the qualifications, unit standards or learning outcomes for which a learner believes that they will meet the requirements.
• Matching a learner’s skills, knowledge and experience with the specific requirements.
• Assessing a learner using appropriate forms of assessment.
• Crediting a learner for skills, knowledge and experience attained.
Who conducts the assessment for RPL?
Education and training providers conduct assessments for the RPL. They are responsible for doing the following:
- Developing policies and strategies for the implementation of RPL, including the establishment of admission and access criteria, in line with the ETAQ requirements.
- Screening of candidates for RPL (and suggesting alternatives if RPL is not viable at that stage).
- Advising candidates for RPL in terms of the process, the evidence required and the assessment that will be undertaken.
- Assisting candidates to collect and structure evidence and prepare for assessment.
- Developing for-for-purpose assessment methodologies and instruments.
- Assessing candidates’ prior learning in relation to registered qualifications, unit standards and learning outcomes.
- Moderating RPL approached, assessment instruments, assessment and results.
- Reporting the results to the Education and Training Quality Assurance body (ETQA)
Where can you get more information on RPL?
- Go to “Publications” for the following SAQA publications on RPL:
The Recognition of Prior Learning in the context of the South African National Qualifications Framework
The Criteria and Guidelines for the Implementation of the Recognition of Prior Learning
- View the RPL page on the SAQA website for information about ETQA’s and education and training providers who offer RPL services.
- Contact the SAQA Directorate: Quality Assurance and Development at (012) 431-5097
CONTINUOS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
It is an internationally accepted practice for professional bodies to have a policy on Continuous Professional Development (CPD) which aims to ensure that its members’ skills and knowledge are relevant to the changing environment that they function in. CPD is an important aspect of serving the public interest and fosters values of continuous learning and greater professional competence to better meet client and employer needs.
What is CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (CPD)
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is defined as learning activities for developing and maintaining the capabilities to perform competently within one’s professional environments. CPD is aimed at the post-qualification maintenance or enhancement of professional competence.
Competence is the ability to perform the tasks and roles expected of a finance officer, both newly qualified and experienced, to the standard demanded by the profession, employers and the general public. In our continually changing environment, competence is therefore not a static term, but evolves over a lifetime of learning.
CPD is an extension of the learning process, where the professional knowledge, professional skills and professional values, ethics and attitudes gained continue to develop and are refined as appropriate for the professional activities and responsibilities of the individual.
CPD is based on the principles of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning can be described as self-directed growth. This means that new skills and knowledge are acquired through self-directed learning.
Why is CPD important?
A professional has been defined as: “A person who practices an occupation involving high standards of intellectual knowledge after successfully completing the required education and training” and a profession as: “An occupation requiring special education”. This reflects the general expectations of the public about professionals.
In today’s changing and increasingly complex environment, municipal accountants cannot possibly possess all the knowledge required to render high-quality professional services if they do not participate in appropriate CPD.
The Institute must therefore be seen to be taking practical steps to ensure that its members maintain their technical knowledge and professional skills.
Reliance on competition and market forces is inadequate and unacceptable since it is likely that incompetence or inadequate service will only be detected after damage has already been incurred.
Mandatory CPD is an effective way to ensure participation in CPD by members whose knowledge is out of date and who are unlikely to respond to a voluntary program. CPD would also provide guidance, added motivation and an agreed norm under which a member can plan and measure his/her own participation.
On its own, CPD does not provide absolute assurance that members will provide services of a high quality. Doing so involves applying that knowledge with professional judgment and an objective attitude in the real-life situations found in today’s changing municipal environment. Nor is there complete assurance that every person who participates in a CPD program will obtain full benefits from the program because of variances in individual commitment and capability.
It is nevertheless certain that members, who are not up-to-date on current technical and general knowledge pertinent to their work, will not be able to provide professional services competently.
Therefore, despite the inherent limitations of any CPD program, a CPD requirement should be an important element in preserving the standards of the profession and maintaining public confidence.
What are the benefits of CPD
Continued development of professional knowledge and skills has the following distinct benefits for the individual:
- Maintains or increases the level of technical competence
- Extends the range of financial skills
- Develops new areas of expertise
- Promotes confidence and pride in your work
- Increases career options
- Increasing job satisfaction
Scope of Policy
The policy is only applicable to active members registered as Fellows, Associates and Licentiates of the Institute. This approach is followed given the assumption that Junior and Licentiate members are currently in some form of a formal learning process and will acquire the necessary knowledge and skills by way of this process. It is however acknowledged that some of these members may not be part of such a process and every effort must be made to interest such members in a voluntary participation of the program.
This policy is not applicable to retired members of the Institute.
The system of CPD will be introduced on a trial basis as soon as possible after the policy has been approved by the Institute but will become mandatory with effect from 1 June 2012. This approach is recommended to facilitate administrative arrangements and proper communication with members. Credits earned during the period preceding 1 January 2011 however, will be recognized for qualification during the first three year cycle.