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As an employer, are you prepared for the QCTO changes ahead?

I have been taken aback recently by the number of employers who seem to be unaware of the looming QCTO deadline and the possible implications for their businesses. Do you know that after 30 June 2024, all the traditional SETA-accredited programmes (the so-called ‘legacy qualifications’) that most employers have been implementing for decades are due to fall away and that from 1 July 2024 onwards all learners will only be able to register for QCTO-accredited occupational programmes?

As the cutoff date inches ever closer, many of us in the Training and Skills Development space are becoming increasingly anxious as confusion around the practical implications of the transition escalates and the future of training in South Africa looks uncertain, for training providers as well as employers.

As an employer, are you prepared for the QCTO changes ahead?

Challenges to employers

One of the key obstacles highlighted by many in the industry is the limited number of accredited qualifications that have been registered with the QCTO thus far, which will severely hamper the ability of employers to have their learners registered and trained after 30 June 2024, as they have in the past. There are several reasons for the small number of available QCTO qualifications, one being the fact that the SETAs have not yet registered enough qualifications on the new QCTO framework. In addition, the registration process is a lengthy one, so it is unlikely that there will be many more new qualifications added to the current list before the deadline, in less than 3 months’ time.

Another issue that has been raised is the status of compliance-related training programmes such as health & safety and first aid, as well as other mandatory training in certain specialised industries which is required from a regulatory perspective, in many cases to protect employees from the risks of injury or death. With all the current SETA-accredited regulatory training programmes due to fall away on 30 June and very few, if any, replacement programmes registered on the QCTO system thus far, there is a very real risk to employers of non-compliance with their legal obligations and possibly an even greater threat to the safety and wellbeing of employees.

There are also concerns about the structure of some of the new QCTO programmes, many of which do not talk to the requirements of B-BBEE. For example, there are some learnerships which have been registered by the QCTO with as little as 18 credits and at this stage it is unclear whether these would be recognised by verification agencies for the purposes of B-BBEE points. In addition, there is uncertainty about the status of the QCTO’s occupational skills programmes and whether they will be recognised for B-BBEE purposes, as they are not registered with SAQA.

At this time, a variety of qualifications at an NQF level 1, 2 and 3 across different sectors are limited to a few very specific industries, which means that learners who don’t meet the entry level requirements of the higher qualifications have very little options in the way of career pathing and studies. 

While the QCTO and Setas are working on getting more accredited qualifications available, time is running out for providers to complete the QCTO process of becoming accredited before the 30 June 2024 cut-off period. The risk here is that there are not going to be sufficient available qualifications across sectors or ones that suit the requirements of most employers.

Currently there are only 204 learnerships registered with the QCTO across a limited number of sectors. This poses a challenge to employers who traditionally implement learnerships to achieve Skills Development points on their B-BBEE scorecards.

Skills Development Providers (SDPs) are accredited to conduct training at specified locations. Should training need to be conducted at a different site to the one linked to the SDP’s original accreditation, advanced notification has to be given to the QCTO in order to have each new site approved. This process has not as yet been tested in terms of timeframes, consistency, turnaround times etc. This additional red tape severely hampers the ability of SDPs to provide a streamlined service to employers.

Another significant challenge would be hosted learnerships. Under the QCTO process, workplaces have to be accredited and it is unclear what this process would look like for employers whose learners are hosted outside of their offices.

Considering all these challenges and the fact that the 30 June deadline is on our doorstep, if the final shift from the SETAs to the QCTO goes ahead as planned, it seems highly likely that most workplace training could come to a grinding halt from July this year. With barely 3 months left before all legacy qualifications are no longer available, the best advice to employers would be to get your spend in before the end of June and get your learners signed up for SETA-accredited learnerships before it’s too late.

8 Apr 2024 13:55


About the author

CEO at Progression