Making the switch to QCTO Accreditation and the effect on Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment 


The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (“QCTO”) is gearing up to replace Sector Education and Training Authority (“SETA”) accreditations with their own accreditations, from 30 June 2024. This is an attempt by Government to address the misalignment between qualifications being done and unemployment.

The idea is to target training that will make individuals more employable. It has been found that learners, in particular, may be enrolled onto and complete several learnerships, none of which result in a long term or sustainable career. Furthermore, there is no formal monitoring of learner workplace experience or its effectiveness. 

The switch from SETA accreditation to QCTO accreditation will result in training that is more sector specific, with formally monitored workplace experience by suitably qualified mentors and subject matter expert facilitators. The final outcome of the switch, is to ensure that there are Occupational Qualifications that align to South Africa’s Skills Development priorities and shortfalls. The QCTO has been structured to ensure that qualifications meet strict quality standards via improved accountability, enhanced learning, continuous improvement and demonstratable impact.

The SETAs themselves are not falling away. However, they will no longer be the responsible accreditation body for learning programmes offered. The responsible accreditation body post 30 June 2024 will be now be the QCTO, offering more industry relevant programmes. The SETAs will work hand in hand with the QCTOs to provide training programmes going forward. By completing industry relevant programmes, it is thought that delegates and learners will have an increased likelihood of entering the job market in a chosen profession, thereby reducing the unemployment rate in South Africa and addressing the current skills shortage. 

These new accredited qualifications will be seen as Occupational Qualifications. From 30 June 2024, no more learners will be able to be enrolled on SETA qualifications, and these qualifications will come to be recognised as “Legacy Qualifications”. However, those delegates and learners that are enrolled on SETA learnships prior to the 30 June 2024, will have until 30 June 2027 to complete their chosen courses.

We will see significant changes in the Skills Development field, in particular when addressing B-BBEE requirements. There will be a large reduction in the options available when selecting the qualifications for learnerships. There will be a drive to ensure that each company trains their learners and delegates in their field of operations. The courses being offered by each SETA will be reduced and all SETA training material will be replaced by new QCTO material, which needs to be accredited by QCTO before being distributed. Furthermore, Unit Standards will be replaced by Modules.

As per the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), it is estimated that 1 credit will take 10 hours to complete. As there are approximately 1 920 hours in an annual cycle, therefore some qualifications may take several years to complete as opposed to the 12 month qualifications most delegates and learners have become accustomed to. All qualifications exceeding 192 credits will now surpass the 12 month timeframe. This will impact companies wishing to absorb learners on an annual basis, as they would have to wait for their learners to complete the qualification before absorption could take place and B-BBEE points awarded.

All learner host sites, whether it is the company implementing the learnerships or an external host company, will now need to apply for workplace approval through the SETA in order to host the learners. In addition, all hosts will need to ensure that there are competent workplace mentors to provide the workplace experience to the learners. All qualifications done will require separate accreditations and must have their own qualified mentors and facilitators.

We will also see the introduction of Full Qualifications and Part Qualifications. Full Qualifications entail completing all modules and hours associated to a specific qualification (Full qualifications will have a minimum of 120 credits, whilst Part Qualifications will have less than 120 credits).

Delegates and learners may opt to complete selected modules within a qualification. This would result in the awarding of a Part Qualification. From a B-BBEE perspective, only Full Qualifications would be recognised under Internships, Learnerships, and Apprenticeships (Categories B, C, D). The course fee as well as the learners stipends would be claimable under these qualifications. Not all qualifications will be registered as Categories B, C, and D, and therefore it is important to obtain the unique “Q” number for the Qualification when engaging with the Training Provider. This will evidence that it is an appropriately accredited course.

All Part Qualifications would only be recognised as Work integrated learning (Category E), and therefore only the course fee, and not the stipends of the learners, would be recognised towards the company’s target spend.

Legacy qualifications will be recognised as informal training (Category F) as they will no longer be accredited. This will result in only 25% of the course fee for Black South African delegates being claimable towards a company’s B-BBEE Skills Expenditure.

There will be adjustments to the costs associated to running QCTO qualifications. The cost will be dependant on the number of credits per qualification, as well as additional fees for External Integrated Summative Assessment (“EISA”) exams.

From an evidentiary point of view, the body of evidence to claim Categories B, C, and D will remain roughly the same, with slight alterations. These alterations include proof of registration with QCTO and no longer the SETA, as well as evidence of the final learning outcomes of the qualification. This will provide  evidence of if it is a Full Qualification or a Part Qualification. The required evidence will always be at the full discretion of the Company’s selected Rating Agency and may vary.

It is important to discuss the above changes with your preferred Skills Development provider in order to ascertain which Learnerships and qualifications your company would be able to support and undergo, the accreditation processes to host learners, as well as the potential costs associated.


Chanelle Zeeman

Assistant Manager: B-BBEE, Johannesburg

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