The Mining Qualifications Authority (MQA) is a Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) responsible for the administration of skills development programs for the mining and minerals sector in South Africa. It was first established under the Mine Health and Safety Act No. 29 of 1996 and later registered as a SETA under the Skills Development Act No. 97 of 1998.
MQA has a mission, which is to ensure that the mining and minerals sector has sufficient competent people who will improve health and safety, employment equality and increase productivity standards. Within its services, MQA values continuous learning, empowerment, professionalism, honesty and mutual respect, and service excellence.
The skills development programs run by MQA include learnerships, bursaries, and internships.
MQA Artisan Development Learnerships
The MQA Artisan Development Learnerships’ targets are set by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and support the objectives of the New Growth Path. The MQA hosts the quarterly Artisan Development Forum with the MQA accredited engineering training centers, trade test centers and MQA mining linked FET colleges. The MQA also participates in the Artisan and Technician Subcommittee meeting coordinated by the National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB).
There continues to be a need for qualified artisans to support and grow the South African economy. To this end, the MQA has undertaken several initiatives:
- MQA / NSF2 Artisan Development, targeting unemployed and employed learners
- MQA / UIF Learnerships Artisan, targeting retrenched mining and minerals sector employees
- MQA Mpumalanga TVET Artisan, targeting unemployed learners
- MQA Artisan Development, targeting unemployed and employed learners
- MQA RPL / Artisan Aides, targeting employed artisan aides / artisan assistants
Positions in this development program include Diesel Mechanic, Electrician, Fitting (including Machining), Fitting and Turning, Instrumentation Mechanic, Millwright, Plater / Welder, and Rigger Ropesman.
MQA Non-Artisan Learnerships
The Skills Development Act of 1998 determines that the Mining Qualifications Authority must establish, register, promote and administer learnerships in the mining and minerals sector.
A learnership is a vocational, education and training program that combines structured workplace learning and institutional learning governed by a contract between the employer, an accredited training provider and the learner. At the end of the program the learnership will culminate in a qualification registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). There must be an assurance that there is a need in the sector before a learnership can be registered.
MQF offers non-artisan learnerships for South African young people who wish to upgrade their skills, knowledge and qualification in the mining and minerals sector. The MQA Non-Artisan Learnerships were established to facilitate and support the development and implementation of core sector skills and development programs aligned to the sector qualifications framework. The programs are offered to enroll learners onto core learnerships for the mining and minerals sector. These are also offered to people with disabilities. The non-artisan learnerships for people with disabilities are offered to ensure the inclusion of these people in skills development programs.
Throughout the learnership program, learners will receive allowance as below:
- NQF 1 and 2: a minimum of R120 – R240 per week
- NQF 3: a minimum of R120 – R370 per week
- NQF 4: a minimum of R120 – R540 per week
- NQF 5 to 8: a minimum of R120 – R700 per week
The MQA Bursary scheme was established to increase the number of students taking careers in the mining and minerals sector. Today the bursary scheme continue to assist students by offering them the opportunity to study these careers at Higher Education and Training (HET).
The MQA Bursary is available to students that have enrolled with universities, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, and universities of technology. The bursary scheme covers tuition and registration fees; residence fees or out of residence living costs, books, stationery; and toolkit allowance per bursar per semester.
The minimum criteria required for MQA bursaries include a strong academic record accompanied by a need for financial assistance. The awards are also based on the student’s performance. The bursary continues for every year in which the student remains enrolled. However it is re-assessed by the MQA Bursary committee annually.
The MQA Bursary supports the following core mining disciplines:
- Mining Engineering
- Mine Survey
Special consideration will be given to female applicants as well as applicants living with disabilities.
The MQA carries a service obligation and successful applicants will be obligated to secure employment within the South African mining and minerals sector for the same amount of years as the sponsored bursary.
In the process of forging ahead with skills development initiatives and the transformation of the mining and minerals sector, in 2005, the MQA established an internship program which was initially known as Graduate Development Program (GDP), now known as MQA Internship Program.
The MQA Internship Program is aimed at increasing the number of technical graduates with the necessary training and qualifications required for professional employment in the mining and minerals sector.
The target group for the program is young unemployed, historically disadvantaged South Africans who have completed degrees or diplomas in the scarce skills disciplines as identified in the MQA Sector Skills Plan. These include:
- Mining Engineering
- Mine Survey
- Metallurgical Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Environmental Management
- Electro Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Chemical Engineering and Mineral Processing
- Analytical Chemistry
- Jewelry Design and Manufacturing
In the interest of presenting a good product to the Sector, the MQA puts together a Task Team of industry experts including experts from the Department of Mineral Resources and organized labor to develop program requirements for each discipline (i.e. exit requirements, outcomes and the assessment criteria for each discipline).
Candidates are required to complete 2 years of structured learning with an industry host employer. A grant of R 158,000 per candidate per annum over the 2-year period is made available to the host employer to cover the costs for training, allowances, travel, accommodation, medical cover, unemployment insurance fund, insurance, personal protective clothing, etc. The grant is paid out in advance by MQA on a quarterly basis provided that:
- A tripartite contract between the MQA, the employer and the candidate is signed
- Quarterly progress reports are submitted to the MQA signed by both the candidate and the employer
- Learners are verified
On completion of the program, candidates are required to find employment in the Sector and work for a period that is not less than the period of training. If they cannot find employment within 6 months of completion, they are released from the contractual obligations.
For more information regarding MQA skills development programs, please visit http://www.mqa.org.za. You can find the information on MQA Learnerships, Bursaries, and Internships under the Learning Programs tab on the MQA website’s home page.