What the OQSF Policy Transition Means for Businesses

By Koketso Mamabolo

In education circles it’s often said that “qualifications are not jobs” but, as the CEO of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), Vijayen Naidoo explained in the Mail & Guardian last year, “Occupational Qualifications are designed to link directly with the workplace with the explicit intent that “qualifications lead to jobs”’. He was reflecting on the gazetting of the Occupational Qualifications SubFramework (OQSF) Policy, under the National Qualification Framework in late October 2021.

The end of June this year will be the last time learners can enrol on the pre-2009 standards, with the cutoff date for registration having passed at the end of June 2023. The policy has been hailed as a gamechanger. Before 2021, Occupational Qualifications fell under Occupational Certificates. Vijayen explains how the terminology used in the OQSF did not align with other frameworks in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). This is no longer the case.

“The change is far more than cosmetic, however, as with these changes in terminology come a raft of improvements and optimisations to the occupational training system,” he writes. This has also opened up room for skills programmes which were part of the education landscape before but more ad-hoc in nature, being driven by the various SETAs. “While they have always carried valuable skills and training, these sorts of programmes have not attracted recognition and were not designed systematically,” says Vijayen.

“With the formal incorporation of Skills Programmes into the OQSF, it allows for this type of micro-qualification to be systematically designed, rapidly developed and provided to learners and the labour market, and for these programmes to carry recognition that allows a holder of a Skills Programme to receive recognition towards a full Qualification if they choose to.” These changes actualise the objectives of the NQF, which encompass not only the development of individuals but the country as a whole.

But What Does That Mean For South African Businesses?

The transition presents a few challenges one of which is the disparity between what the NQF offers and the programmes available in the OQSF, as outlined by DYNA Training Group CEO, Roland Innes who says, “This creates a dilemma for organisations that had planned to enrol learners in these programmes.” He explains that this misalignment will affect skills development with organisations having to rethink their workforce planning and understand the effect the transition will have on skills development scorecards. “Failure to adapt to the new landscape in time could result in penalties, negatively impacting a company’s overall scorecard and its ability to achieve its skills development goals.”

Roland stresses that organisations need to focus on finding alternatives, even if they differ from what they’re used to. “The potential tax benefits associated with learnerships remain uncertain and may be subject to changes that organisations will need to track closely. In responding to the transition, training providers must play a decisive role, actively engaging with clients, identifying gaps in qualification alignment, and presenting viable options.” Even with the 30 June 2027 deadline for learnerships to be completed, as Roland says, the time to plan and implement is now.

Sources: Mail&Guardian| DHET

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