The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is a juristic person, which is an entity given a legal personality by the law. The South African Qualifications Authority Board is a body of 12 members appointed by the Minister of Higher Education and Training.
The objectives of SAQA are to advance the objectives of the NQF, oversee the further development and implementation of the NQF, and co-ordinate the sub-frameworks.
The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) is a comprehensive system approved by the Minister for the classification, registration, publication and articulation of quality-assured national qualifications. In short, the NQF is the set of principles and guidelines by which records of learners’ achievement are registered to enable national recognition of acquired skills and knowledge, thereby ensuring an integrated system that encourages life-long learning.
SAQA is mandated to advice the Minister of Higher Education and Training on NQF matters in terms of the NQF Act. SAQA’s responsibilities also include performing its functions subject to the NQF Act 67 of 2008 and overseeing the implementation of the NQF and ensure the achievement of its objectives.
SAQA has the following role with respect to qualifications:
- SAQA must develop and implement policy and criteria, after consultation with the QCs for the development, registration and publication of qualifications and part-qualifications.
- SAQA must register a qualification or part-qualification recommended by a QC if it meets the relevant criteria.
- SAQA must develop policy and criteria, after consultation with the QCs, for assessment, recognition of prior learning and credit accumulation and transfer.
Meanwhile, with respect to professional bodies, SAQA’s roles are as follows:
- Must develop and implement policy and criteria for recognizing a professional body and registering a professional designation for the purposes of this Act, after consultation with statutory and non-statutory bodies of expert practitioners in occupational fields and with the QCs.
- Recognize a professional body and register its professional designation if the relevant criteria have been met.
Learnerships are a training program that combines theory at a college or training center with relevant practice on-the-job. There is no learnership if there is no on-the-job practice. The idea is that people really learn the “ins and outs” of an occupation by practicing all its aspects under the guidance of an experienced and qualified person. In order to become qualified themselves, learners will have to be assessed against occupational standards that have been agreed in advance by industry stakeholders.
Learnerships are based on legally binding agreements between an employer, a learner and a training provider. This agreement is intended to spell out the tasks and duties of the employer, the learner and the training provider. It is designed to ensure the quality of the training and to protect the interests of each party.
Employers can offer learnerships to their own employees or can recruit unemployed people for training. Current employees who are provided with learnerships are referred to as 18(1) learners. Unemployed people who are offered learnerships are known as 18(2) learners.
There are a number of reasons why you should get involved in learnerships. They are a way to upgrade your skills and build a better career. The benefits of a learnership are:
- Provide easy access to learning
- Increase employment opportunities
- Assist in making a career path and self-development
- You learn while you earn
- Acquisition of a formal qualification
- Learnerships fast track the development of current employees
- They serve as an entrance into the industry for unemployed learners
Minimum requirements for learnerships differ from company to company. It would then be advisable to check with the appropriate SETA Learnership manager for the minimum requirements of the learnerships available.
There are a few ways to find a learnership:
- Firstly, a company must be able to provide you with employment, or at least the opportunity to get the workplace experience necessary for the learnership.
- Secondly, if you are currently employed you should speak to your company’s Skills Development Facilitator or person responsible for training to check if there are opportunities for learnerships in the company.
If you would like to do a learnership but are currently unemployed, then it would be advisable to follow two routes:
- Register with the Department of Labor as a South African citizen seeking a learnership
- Contact the SETA Manager dealing with learnerships directly to ask for more information with regards to finding a learnership
Applying for SAQA Learnerships
A complete paper application pack must be posted or delivered to SAQA. Applicants are encouraged to deliver applications to SAQA in person, or by courier, to ensure there are no postal delays. The application pack must include the following:
- Application form (completed and signed)
- Proof of identity: Certified copy of the name page of the Qualification Holder’s official, valid identity document (ID / Passport / relevant permit)
- Proof of payment of the amount indicated on the application form / pro forma invoice
- Consent form (completed and signed)
- Qualification documents
SAQA Learnerships are available in a wide variety of fields, as SAQA works in conjunction with the Government’s SETA. Some of these fields that you can consider include the following:
- Child and youth care worker
- Disaster management
- Electrical engineering
- Fire and rescue
- Furniture making
- General forestry
- Mechanical engineering
- Plastic manufacturing
- Security officer
- Social auxiliary worker
- Timber harvesting
- Wealth management
Each of these SAQA learnerships will set specific requirements that must be met by all applicants in order for them to be considered for the learnerships. Basic requirements for most SAQA learnerships are as follows:
- Applicants must be citizens of South Africa with valid identity document
- Applicants must have completed Matric or Grade 12 and hold the legal certificate
- Where applicable, applicants must hold a Diploma or Degree in a relevant field of study
- Applicants must have a clear criminal record
- Applicants must not be taking part in any learnership program other than which SAQA learnership the applicant is applying for
Most SAQA learnerships encourage females and people with disabilities to apply for the opportunity.
Application opening and closing dates vary for each SAQA learnership program. For more information, visit the SAQA’s official website.