Government, please help with skills development
It’s time to recognise the contribution of Private Skills Training Providers.
By Marietta van Rooyen
South Africa is not doing well when it comes to education and training. One should think that any contribution to improve on the status quo will be welcomed, but private providers are operating in a very difficult space.
There are 89 registered and 29 provisionally registered private higher education institutions. In addition there are 856 registered private FET colleges, of which many are skills training providers.
It is estimated by SAQA that there are over 3,000 Skills Training Providers that are accredited with SETAs. Many of these providers are registered, as Umalusi recognises the SETA accreditation for FET providers. However, those operating in the higher education levels, especially NQF Level 5, are finding it impossible to register as their accreditation body (QCTO) is not operational yet and the Council on Higher Education does not recognise SETA accreditation or SAQA registered qualifications.
At their AGM on 24 May 2012, the Association for Private Providers of Education and Training (APPETD) initiated a new committee to cater for the needs of Skills Training Providers in general.
As an employer association, APPETD is aware of the need for the Skills Training Providers who are doing occupational training and thus fall under the QCTO. These training providers are desperately looking for a home where their grievances and issues as employers can be addressed.
Dr Guy Blackbeard, who is imminently qualified for this position, chairs the committee. Guy has many years of experience as head of Maccauvlei Training Centre. Guy, who is soon to retire from this organisation, will be assisted by a committee consisting of such members as Rooksana Rajab, myself, Marina le Grange and many more.
The Department of Higher Education and Training has come up with numerous proposals for amendments to legislation in the last two years, but nothing has been done about the conflicting legislation that directly affects private education and training providers who have been SETA accredited since 2001 for Level 5 and higher occupationally directed qualifications. APPETD has had several meetings with the Department officials over this time, where each meeting has been concluded with the promise that once the QCTO is operational, it will address the issue.
At a stakeholder meeting for private providers last year, Dr Buthelezi from the Department of Higher Education and Training clearly stated that this matter was receiving attention but he could not put a timeframe to when the matter will be resolved.
In the mean time these providers are treated as higher education institutions. This means that they are being compared to universities when it comes to accreditation. This is unconstitutional as the constitution is clear on the fact that private institutions need to be measured against comparable public educational institutions (Bill of Rights No. 29 (3) (c)).
Skills Training Providers cannot pretend to be universities and do not offer qualifications registered on the NQF at HET level. Their qualifications are SAQA registered.
At the moment, a sector of these providers is under severe threat from the government. They are unable to be registered, due to the fact that the QCTO has not stepped up to take up its duties yet. APPETD is planning to be proactive and get legal advice in order to approach the government from a legal point of view to pursuade them to put in place a fair deal for skills training providers.
Other threats to Skills Training Providers are:
• Government institutions do not understand the function of occupational training in the workplace, as there are no comparable state institutions;
• SETA services to providers are often dismal and below standard;
• Providers battle to get payment once the services are rendered, especially from government agencies; and
• The authorities that are registering providers do not understand the anomalies caused by the different sets of government regulations.
APPETD needs to be the first choice of membership for all ETDP employers, large and small, to assist them with their needs.