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IPD participates in QCTO Workgroup
RPL Management courses

IPD is running Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Management courses for your convenience. Projects currently underway include Indwe Risk and a BHP Billiton management course, which is about to start. RPL has received much attention lately from the SETAs and receives funding preference. RPL is considered important in South Africa’s development and is prescribed in the New Growth Path, the National Qualifications Framework Act, the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) III and the Human Resource Development Strategy. Since 2012 there has been an increased national focus on the funding of, structures and processes of RPL in South Africa, bringing formal qualification opportunities to a broader community.

IPD participates in QCTO Workgroup

IPD has been involved in many DQP initiatives and has recently been invited to take part in the QCTO Workgroup for the Services Seta with regards to the Contact Centre management qualification. The Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SSETA) is one of the 21 SETAs re-licensed by the Minister of Higher Education and Training in 2010, for the period 2011 to 2016. The SSETA is responsible for skills development in the services sector.

Gizelle Mc Intyre.jpg
Skills Development; the key to South Africa's economic future
By Gizelle McIntyre
According to The Guardian, as of 29 December 2012 the unemployment rate in South Africa is a staggering minimum of 26%. While many believe that this is due to a lack of tertiary education, an argument could be made that having a piece of paper confirming a degree does not automatically translate to employment.

That degree does not indicate any particular level of expertise or experience, merely the ability to learn from a book. Skills Development, however, indicates actual skill and therefore leads, more often than not, to employment.

There are innumerable advantages to Skills Development both for the employer developing its staff and the employees being developed. The employer receives immense return on investment as it now has better skilled staff working at a higher level of productivity; this means that the work is completed faster with less mistakes leading to a more profitable business. The employee that is being developed will take more pride in their work, having been made to feel important enough to invest in. Skills Development will also lead such employees to have a heightened level of job satisfaction and confidence in what they are doing.

While many believe that Skills Development puts the employer at risk of losing staff, there is much evidence to suggest the opposite. Someone who feels that their company is investing in them will often be extremely loyal to the company. If staff members leave once they are up-skilled, it is likely that they were planning on leaving even before the training started. In the meantime, whilst the employee is undergoing training, he/she is still working for the company and the company is therefore still benefitting from the training.
It is important, however, to ensure that the correct staff members are selected for the correct Skills Development courses. Prior to beginning training, an organisational needs or gap analysis should be conducted. This is often not done in cases where Skills Development is merely done for window dressing purposes; the company has budget for Skills Development, so it does it. This actually leads to wasted money and low return on investment because staff are sent on inappropriate training or on training which they have already completed, which may lead to staff feeling insignificant and even less job satisfaction. This, in turn, has a negative effect on the company as a whole. 

Identifying staff that need Skills Development does not need to be an arduous process, but it does need to be a continuous one. It is important that managers are tasked with continuously identifying gaps in the company. This is not something that can be done once a year to fulfil a check-list; companies are organic. They grow, develop and change unceasingly, as do the staff working for them. Managers need to be trained to use the company’s Performance Management System as an on-going tool to identify development opportunities, rather than as a bonus calculator.

While all staff equally deserve to be developed, it is not always within the company’s means to develop all employees every year. In a situation where various staff members have been identified as requiring training, but there is a limited budget available, a strategic discussion needs to be held regarding how to proceed. There is no template to be followed here, but some guidelines are available to assist managers in selecting the best candidates for development.

Technical skills should always be prioritised; this usually relates to production which directly affects the company’s profit margins. Secondly, there should be a focus on critical skills and scarce skills, and thirdly, on softer skills. However, it should be ensured that the question of where the company is headed is asked. For example, if the company wants to produce the best bricks in Johannesburg, then the people that make the bricks should be sent for training. However, if the company wants to have the most recognisable brand in the brick business, then the marketing staff should be sent for training.

What the South African economy needs is people who have true employment, not just a job. True employment is something that means something to that employee, his/her family and the country. To have true employment, people need to be passionate about what they do; but when skills shortages are rife, there can be no passion. Building Skills Development builds job knowledge, increasing performance and passion – this is an economical issue and one that could be the key to employment in South Africa.

Mark Orpen
Skills levels and the benefit of Learning and Development in government
By Mark Orpen, CEO of the Institute of People Development

Issued by Trinitas Consulting (Pty) Ltd
Skills and service levels in government are common topics of discussion.
But are these often negative discussions justified?

Do government officials have the required skills to fulfill on their job descriptions and provide acceptable service delivery? The Limpopo textbook debacle, however, is a clear example of governmental ineffectiveness. 

Poor service delivery is not just a South African problem, but a global phenomenon. There is no doubt that governance of a country and service delivery to constituents is multifaceted and multilayered. In the South African public sector, there are many pockets of excellence despite a continued overall reduction in skills and service levels. Government is aware of this skills deficit and has shown its support through increasing learning and development budgets. It has a renewed focus on higher education and the expansion thereof to the whole population of South Africa. Adult education received attention and in his 2012/13 Budget Vote Speech, Minister Blade Nzimande announced that an amount of R499 million will be allocated for teaching development in order to assist in improving graduate outputs.

Government also acknowledges that private training providers are important to provide learning and development and will contribute towards improving the South African economy. It invested resources in promoting that training and trainer development is at the highest quality in order to ensure optimum transfer of skill. Spend on education will grow from R207 billion in 2012/13 to R236 billion in 2014/15.

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) is one such pocket of excellence in government with extensive Learning and Development (L&D) budgets. It has been shown that there is a direct correlation between L&D spend and operational excellence in organisations. It has to be kept in mind, however, that there are various learning styles and training methodologies toward optimum learning delivery. There are also many new technologies and tools that can be used in the delivery of learning and development and it is important for government and solution providers to stay abreast of such developments in the L&D space in order to maintain a competitive edge. Such new technologies have to accommodate learners and trainers with different thinking and learning styles and needs and such flexibility could be expensive.

Changes occur rapidly in technology. No sooner had government become aware of e-Learning solutions and the world is moving on to mobile phone solutions (m-Learning). In order to avoid a decline in skills transfer, training budgets will have to increase. According to the 2013 National Budget, national departments will receive and apportionment of 47.6% and provinces will be allocated 43.5%, mainly for education, health and social welfare. This shows insight into the importance of up-skilling employees and general education. It is sound governance to invest generously in L&D as government is the largest employer in the country. When government employees are up-skilled and exit to the private sector with superior qualifications, those positions will be opened up to unemployed people to fill them and thus improve the quality of life for South Africans in general.  

When applying the Learning and Development budgets, procurement decisions have to be made on the quality of supply and cutting edge technology. Core skills to be developed are; management training, with a focus on people and productivity, and leadership, with a focus on ethics and integrity. A move to management development in the human resource development space is required. This will lead to a more strategic application and spend of L&D budgets. When employees are sent on courses because there is budget available and no change is affected in the workplace funds are wasted.  Learners should be held accountable and should bring about change after training in order for L&D budgets to have an impact. Management development programmes should bring about recognition of what should be learnt in the context of crucial skill requirements while honing in on contextual skills development to fill gaps that directly affect performance and motivation.

Successful learning and development relies on learner selection – the right people must be chosen for the right courses at the right time. The terms of participation must be agreed to in advance and learners, management and the organisation have to be held accountable for return on investment. Finally, learner support is of crucial importance and must be adequately provided.

When facilitators and assessors are trained and can effectively teach and assess employees, the upward spiral created will ensure efficiency, productivity, effectiveness and motivation with a result that government services will gain a good reputation and the general population will be more inclined to pay their taxes. It all boils down to good, sound Learning and Development practices.

QCTO impacts on Learning and Development Professionals
By Gizelle Mc Intyre

Issued by Trinitas Consulting (Pty) Ltd
IPD participates in QCTO Workgroup

The Skills Development arena is an ever changing landscape and the “new kid on the block” is causing quite a stir.

The Skills Development Act Amendment Bill introduces the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), which will coordinate learning towards occupational competence within our national learning system. The council was legally established in April 2009 and became fully functional by April 2010. The focus is to facilitate the development of a demand-driven occupational learning system that will provide relevant occupational skills (especially in terms of workplace experience and be industry driven) and will hopefully also be less bureaucratic.

The QCTO recognises the need for all occupational learning to build on general knowledge and theory and provides for linkages and partnerships with both public and private provider systems. For this purpose, the QCTO has established working relationships usually via the SETAs to create planned curricula. In order to fulfill its mandate, the QCTO will cooperate closely with SAQA, the other QCs and professional bodies.

The QCTO will ensure that learning programmes based on registered planned curricula are developed to address specific scarce and critical skills needed. The legislation also allows for different kinds of learnerships, apprenticeships and internships that can be accommodated and that different learning routes can be selected to suit the needs of both the learner and the employer. QTCO is now one of three Quality Assurers, the other being Umalusi and Council of Higher Education and Training.

An interesting change in the legislation is that the workplace will now also be quality assured, not just the training providers. The focus of occupational qualifications will be the development of occupational competence which, in turn, contributes to increased employment rates and productivity – thus ROI. The establishment of the QCTO will significantly increase the efficiency of the current ETQA system.

A common misconception in the market is that the QCTO will replace the SETAs, but SETAs will maintain their responsibilities for their specific sectors. What will change is that the Education and Training Quality Assurance Bodies (ETQA) will no longer be responsible for monitoring and auditing the provision and achievement of NQF registered standards and qualifications as was stipulated in the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Act of 1995. ETQAs were accredited by SAQA to monitor compliance with SAQA requirements and were responsible for the accreditation of constituent education and training providers. This role will now move to the QCTO.

It is promised that without the quality aspect the fund management process will be more effective, streamlined and user friendly. It is necessary to collect information on labour market needs in terms of occupations and skills required and train employable workers to grow business and the economy. In such the QCTO has been tasked with ensuring that there are fit-for-purpose occupational qualifications to respond directly to labour market needs.

The QCTO will manage and coordinate the qualifications in the occupational framework (OFO) in terms of their development, provision, assessment and impact; its scope will be the development and quality assurance of the fit-for-purpose occupational qualifications and skills programmes as required by the labour market for work and employment purposes. Such fit-for-purpose occupational qualifications will be certified as national occupational awards or national skills certificates. The awards will name the relevant occupation that the learner is now competent to practice.   

Both employers and trade unions need competent L&D professionals. Such professionals can now specialise in various areas. There will be two types of qualifications; a National Occupational Award certifying the achievement of an occupation listed on the Organising Framework for Occupations and a National Skills Certificate certifying competence in a specialisation related to an occupation or group of related occupation. This is especially relevant to the occupationally directed L&D Practitioner.

With regards to the management function of Assessment Quality Partners (AQP) the new legislation stipulates that AQPs should provide input to develop assessment strategy, assist in fund development of nationally standardised assessment instruments and manage assessment processes. This means that the AQP role will be responsible for developing exemplars, specifying requirements for accreditation of assessment centres, recommending assessment centres, registering assessors, moderators and invigilators, reporting on assessment results and analysing assessment results in terms of quality. This will hopefully create the valid, practicable, fair and reliable system we have been working towards for the last 13 years.

Knowledge, practical skills and work experience will be assessed by QCTO accredited skills development providers in accordance with the criteria outlined in the various curriculum components. This assessment is referred to as internal assessment, or assessment against curriculum components, and culminates in statements of results by accredited skills development providers. For work experience a log book or formal statement of work experience will be issued by approved workplaces. The same assessment criteria linked to each curriculum component will be applied when conducting assessments for the purpose of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

In order to qualify for an external assessment, learners must provide proof of completion of all required components by means of statements of results and work experience. The QCTO requires that all learners undertaking occupational programmes registered on NQF levels 3‐4 are assessed against the Foundational Learning part qualifications and if found “not yet competent” must complete the specified communication and mathematical literacy courses. This must be completed prior to the external summative assessment. The same assessment criteria aligned to each curriculum component will be applied when conducting assessments for the purpose of RPL.

Taking the changes brought about by the new Amendment Bill into consideration, Learning and Development (L&D) institutions such as the Institute for People Development (IPD) need to ensure that work related resources are not taken for granted and create a scenario where a workforce will happily attend effective and productive training, providing true ROI and improved learning evaluations, positively impacting on performance and productivity. Training should stimulate new ideas and lead to Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

In response to this requirement the IPD created the ReCr8 programme that will follow the process of expanding knowledge, understanding and skill followed by continuous assessment and application of skills and assessment thereof in the workplace.

Whether these new changes and the response of industry thereto will address the skills shortage experienced in South Africa remains to be seen, but it seems as if the processes and quality standards imposed will be to the benefit of L&D professionals, employers and learners. With the SETA freed up to manage funds, the process of claiming back on L&D spend will be much easier, hopefully stimulating the funds available for up-skilling our nation.

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