Navigating the QCTO Transition

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In a recent webinar with our guest speaker Euraine Kruger (General Manager at iLearn and Chairperson of the Association for Skills Development in South Africa), we explored the changes in the skills development landscape, highlighting the transition from the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) system to the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). As we delve deeper into this change, it becomes evident that understanding the intricacies of the shift is paramount for businesses to adapt and thrive in this evolving environment.

Understanding the QCTO’s Mandate and Responsibilities

The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) is a Quality Council established in 2010 in terms of the Skills Development Act Nr. 97 of 1998. Its role is to oversee the design, implementation, assessment, and certification of occupational qualifications, including trades, on the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework (OQSF). The QCTO also offers guidance to skills development providers who must be accredited by the QCTO to offer occupational qualifications.

Acknowledging the Role of SETAs and SAQA

Contrary to misconceptions, SETAs are not becoming obsolete; they remain integral partners in the quality assurance process alongside the QCTO. While the QCTO takes the helm in accrediting, implementing, and certifying occupational qualifications, SETAs continue to play a pivotal role as collaborators in ensuring the efficacy of skills development initiatives. Additionally, it’s crucial to recognise that the QCTO’s emergence does not signify the replacement of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA). SAQA retains its mandate to oversee the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), a cornerstone of South Africa’s education and training system.

Navigating the Transition Timeline

With the expiration of SETA qualifications looming, businesses must adhere to the timeline set forth for the transition to QCTO qualifications. The last learner enrolment date for SETA qualifications is June 30, 2024, followed by a phase out period until June 30, 2027. After this juncture, SETA qualifications and unit standards will be recognized solely as legacy qualifications, marking a definitive shift in the skills development landscape. This transition necessitates the development of new materials and adherence to the QCTO accreditation process, signaling a departure from SETA-based approaches.

Key Considerations for Employers, Skills Development Providers, and Learners

Skills Development Providers:

As Skills Development Providers navigating this transition, several crucial factors demand attention. Firstly, it’s imperative to understand that SETA material is not transferable for QCTO accreditation as historical qualifications are unit standard based and focused on knowledge transfer whereas the new occupational qualifications are modular and focused on transfer of skills. This shift from unit standards to modules underscores the need for recalibration in training methodologies.

Secondly, the cost of QCTO qualifications varies based on credits, with additional expenses for exams and certificates which are prescribed by the QCTO. Lastly, skills development providers must ensure that their facilitators possess the requisite qualifications and registration with the QCTO. To register facilitators, they need to be subject matter experts, with industry-related experience required, and a qualification related to the occupational qualification they will be training.


Employers are encouraged to integrate this change into their Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) strategies with the recognition of occupational qualifications categorized as category D. This alignment ensures compliance with B-BBEE requirements and fosters inclusivity in skills development initiatives. Employers play a vital role in this transition by adhering to QCTO guidelines, which necessitates obtaining workplace approval through SETAs. Additionally, employers are tasked with providing competent workplace mentors to facilitate effective skills development within their organisations.


Learners, on the other hand, must undergo External Integrated Summative Assessments (EISA) to attain occupational certificates and for Skills programmes, Final Integrated Summative Assessments (FISA) are a prerequisite for the attainment of results. This underscores the importance of thorough preparation and engagement by learners while participating in the programmes.

Embracing the Opportunities Ahead

Despite the challenges posed by this transition, there is a positive outlook in the form of enhanced learnership experiences. The QCTO’s focus on occupational-directed qualifications promises clearer career pathways and more effective workplace learning environments. By prioritising progressive learning pathways and relevant skill development, the QCTO aims to address the evolving demands of the workforce, particularly in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.


As South Africa embarks on this change in the landscape of skills development, businesses must embrace change with resilience and adaptability. By understanding the nuances of the QCTO transition, organisations can position themselves to navigate challenges effectively while seizing opportunities for growth and transformation. In fostering a culture of continuous learning and development, we pave the way for a more robust and inclusive workforce, driving sustainable progress and prosperity for generations to come.

For further information and resources, visit the QCTO website at

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