So many people ask what our role as a Professional Body is and what the difference is between Qualifications and Designations. Written by Brian Randall, President and Chairman of the Board.
Qualification vs. Professional Designation
Does a qualification give its holder the right to do work in a specific field? The answer might be found in the following questions:
- Why does a person with a BComm Degree first have to gain the designation of Chartered Accountant (CA) before practicing as an Auditor?
- Why does a person that does the trade of electrician have to register with Department of Labour to become a “licensed electrician”? In the old days this was called “a Wireman’s Licence”
- Why does a person do a Law degree but then needs to be accepted by the law society to become a practicing lawyer or admitted to the bar as an Advocate?
- What about the person that studied medicine at university? The Degree does not automatically make that person a Doctor. That title and the right to practice as a medical doctor come from the Health Professions Council.
- Millions of persons have been found competent against a qualification called the “K53” and is then awarded a licence to operate a motor vehicle by the RMTC
In each case, the “right-to-practice” in a particular occupational field comes from an Authorised body and in each case the right to practice is conferred onto a person with the requisite, underlying qualification plus other requirements as determined by the body that confers the right to practice onto that person.
In each case the “right-to-practice” i.e. the licence to operate has a set validity period and requires renewal/re-registration at set intervals and yet it is common knowledge that qualifications in SA do not expire!
What is a qualification?
There is a common understanding within the QCTO and SAQA for an occupational qualification that states “an 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”.
Please take note of the last part of this definition“ .. has an external summative assessment”.
The term Assessment Quality Partner (AQP) is defined by the QCTO to mean “a body delegated by the QCTO to develop assessment instruments and to manage external summative assessments of specific occupational qualifications”
In simple terms then-a “qualification” only becomes a qualification after an external summative assessments has been carried out. Thus the learner needs a statement of results (SOR) issued by the Assessment Quality Partner that carries out the external summative assessment before the learner is deemed qualified.
So the training provider has to “inform” (viz upload) learner information to the delegated QAP / AQP and await the results of that body’s external summative assessment before issuing certificates. Ever since the start of the SAQA /SETA structure this has been the one major weakness in the system. The SETAs are simply not geared to perform the huge numbers of external summative assessments required by the Work at Height industry simplybecause the vast majority of “training-per-learner” in this industry is less than a part qualification and nowhere near a full qualification!
The SETAS do not have sufficient numbers of subject matter experts in their employ that can undertake large quantities of the assessments keeping in mind that in this industry some ten thousand persons are trained annually. So the vast majority of learners cannot get legitimate certificates from the Training Providers in the time-frame required by industry.
So what happens if the SETA does not issue the SOR timeously due to their own internal protocols or apparent inefficiencies? The answer is simple-the learner is not qualified! And the Training Provider should not be issuing certificates!