Skills Development Amendment Bill: public hearings

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Employment and Labour

29 July 2008
Chairperson: Ms O Kasienyane
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Meeting Summary

The Committee held public hearings on the Skills Development Amendment Bill. The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants noted that it was a voluntary and non statutory body that represented 28 000 chartered accountants in South Africa. It had been accredited as an education and training quality assurance body. It submitted that designation should comprise more than merely achieving first degrees but should also include post graduate studies, and that there were inconsistencies in the use of the terms “designation” and “qualification”.  It was pointed out that education, training and professional examinations were all qualifying features for the accounting profession. The Institute expressed concerns with the lack of consistency with provisions of the National Qualifications Framework Bill and the amendments proposed to the Skills Development Act and pointed to a failure to define key concepts and words, inconsistencies in use of words, and the conflicts with the provisions of the National Qualifications Framework Bill in respect of transitional arrangements. It proposed that a fourth sub-framework for professional qualifications should be established and that reference to it be inserted into the National Qualification Framework Act. Further definitions were also proposed for the Skills Development Act, and there should be provision made for delegation of quality assurance by quality councils to recognised professional bodies.

Members requested clarity on the reasons for some of the proposals, and asked how the Council had operated until now. It was stressed that relevant parties should collaborate with existing structures. The public hearings would continue on 31 July.

 

Meeting report

Skills Development Amendment Bill: Public Hearings
South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) Submission
Mr Nazeer Wadee, Chief Executive Officer, SAICA, briefly explained the structure and mandate of SAICA, noting that it was a voluntary, non-statutory body that represented 28 000 chartered accountants in South Africa. SAICA was the first Education and Training Quality Assurance Body (ETQA) to be accredited by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), and had registered the first learnerships with the Department of Labour (DoL) through FASSET (which was clarified by the Chairperson as being the Sector Education and Training Authority for the financial sector). Mr Wadee believed that designation was more than a question of merely achieving the required first degree, but should also include post-graduate studies.

Ms Adri Kleinhans, Project Director: Training, SAICA continued by saying that there were three ways to achieve standards; through education, training or professional examinations. SAICA commended the drafters on certain of the provisions, but had concerns on others. SAICA’s main areas of concern was around the lack of synergy or consistency with the provisions of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Bill, and the proposed amendments to the Skills Development Act (SDA). The Bill failed to define certain key concepts, and some further definitions were proposed (see attached presentation).  There was a risk that the proposed Quality Councils (QC) could lead to a fragmented approach to quality assurance. She further pointed to inconsistencies in the use of the words ‘designation’ and ‘qualification’.

Ms Kleinhans also said that the proposed transitional arrangements conflicted with the provisions of the NQF Bill. She added that failure to define certain key concepts could lead to confusion in interpreting the legislation. She used the example that although the word ‘trade’ was clearly defined there was no definition for the word ’occupation’. Furthermore, in Section 16C of the SDA, the word ‘profession’ was not defined.

Ms Kleinhans then recommended that a fourth sub-framework for professional qualifications should be established. The words ‘professional qualification’ should be inserted into Section 31 of the NQF Act. Section 1 of the SDA should be expanded to include additional definitions. Finally, the proposed section 28(i) contained in the NQF Bill should be amended, to provide for full delegation of the quality assurance by quality councils to recognised professional bodies.

She finally noted that SAICA remained committed to participating in national legislative structures to enhance the quality of education and training and to develop and improve the skills of the South African workforce.

Discussion
Mr B Mkongi (MP) asked whether the SAICA argument was based on professional qualifications or designation. He asked what was unclear about the term ‘occupation’ as the term was used throughout the presentation.

Ms Kleinhans said that it was not clear to SAICA as to which Quality Council it fell under, and therefore it had recommended a fourth sub-framework. In regard to the query about the term ‘occupation’, Ms Kleinhans said that the Bill sometimes used the term ‘occupation’ but at other times used ‘profession’.

Mr Wadee said that quality learning should not be done in isolation of the Quality Councils, and that there should be a collaboration to determine how the ideal body should be structured and operate. He added that a balance should be found to work directly with the Quality Councils.

Mr Mkongi asked how SAICA had operated until now.

Ms Kleinhans said that it currently fell under the higher education level.

Mr Wadee commented that what was important was that all relevant parties should collaborate with the existing structures in the sake of public interest.

The Chairperson noted that public hearings would continue on 31 July.

The meeting was adjourned.

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