Purpose of the QCTO

In addressing a number of NQF implementation problems, the QCTO provides an opportunity  to find viable and  powerful solutions, some of which are  outlined below:

A quality  council that provides a framework  for various role-players

The many  role-players and  structures active  in the labour  market, such  as SETAs,  SGBs,  providers, assessors and  professional bodies, have  created a situation  that is overcomplex and  inefficient. The QCTO provides a coordinating framework  to support these role-players so that they can  focus  on what they do best  and  give coherence to these activities  as a whole.

An improved qualification model that suits occupational learning

Workers  need to be competent in three  areas of learning  in order  to be able  to practise a particular  occupation effectively, namely  with regard to the –

  • knowledge and  theory  component
  • practical  skills component
  • work experience component.

The new model  values each of these components equally.  It differs from the previous qualification model  in that it includes a structured work experience component.

A qualifications design process that is responsive to labour market skills needs

As a starting  point, the new model  analyses the relevant occupations as listed in the Organising Framework for Occupations (OFO), and  identifies  skills and  tasks associated with each occupation and  the kind and  scope of work experience required to develop competence. This process results in occupational curricula and  occupational qualifications that are  directly linked to labour-market skills needs.

Curricula for guiding the creation of occupational learning programmes

Each  occupational qualification will be derived  from an occupational curriculum. The purpose of the curriculum  is to simplify and  strengthen the development and assessment of the qualification.  It specifies the inputs  needed by unpacking the occupational profile, and  will be used as the basis for the accreditation of providers and  the approval of workplaces to offer the work experience component. It will ensure that overlaps across qualifications are  recognised, and this will assist learning  programme design, materials development and  learner mobility.

Reconceptualised unit standards that reflect  the three  forms of learning

The outcomes are  specified in unit standards reflecting each of the curriculum components already mentioned, namely  knowledge standards, practical standards and  work experience standards. Many of the more  generic knowledge and  practical  standards will appear in a number of different qualifications. A minimum credit value  will be set  for unit standards to ensure meaningful units of learning.

Qualification assessment specifications for standardising assessments

The QCTO will introduce an external, nationally  standardised assessment for each of its occupational qualifications  as a prerequisite for certification. A qualification assessment specifications document for each qualification will specify  the overall assessment strategy for the external assessment  of occupational competence. It will also  specify  the criteria for the registration of constituent assessors and  moderators, and  the requirements for accreditation of assessment centres or registration of assessment sites  where  appropriate. This will put an end  to the current  variations in the interpretation of standards across sectors and  sites.

The QCTO will appoint,  or recognise, suitable organisations as quality partners in the design and  management of these external assessments.

Revised rules  of combination that reflect  the differing requirements of different  occupations

Learners will have  to demonstrate sufficient foundational competence in communication and  mathematical literacy to cope  with the occupational learning demands and  to benefit  from the learning  process. Additional language, mathematics or knowledge and  theory  requirements in other  subject areas will be determined by the needs of each specific  occupation and  will be fit-for-purpose. These will be incorporated into the common/core learning requirements of the qualification.

The blanket,  ‘fundamental’ requirements that existed before  were time-consuming and  often resulted in the accumulation of credits  that were  not relevant to the particular  occupation. The new model  thus  removes a previous barrier  and  relates the educational requirements to the particular  job. ‘Electives’ will be replaced by specialisations.

Multiple ETQAs combined in order to streamline quality-assurance processes

The establishment of the QCTO will significantly increase the efficiency of the current  ETQA system, merging  twenty-three SETA ETQAs into one.  This means that quality-assurance activities  can  be better  coordinated and  managed. All occupational unit standards will be quality assured by the QCTO.

A ‘light-touch’ accreditation process that promotes self-improvement

Previously, there  was  an overemphasis on accreditation as the key to quality assurance. The QCTO will simplify the accreditation process, applying  criteria which are  stated in each curriculum  and  are  fit-for-purpose  for each qualification. The process will begin  with self-evaluation and  will promote quality improvement. Overlapping accreditation, registration and  verification requirements – currently  causing major delays and  frustrations, and  escalating costs (especially for small providers) – will no longer  apply.

A balance between flexibility  and standardisation in order to achieve credible qualifications

The new model  is flexible enough to maximise ‘fitness for purpose’, but includes sufficient standardisation to ensure the credibility of the system.