The Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act No. 97 of 1998) introduced a new approach to the development of skills within South Africa. As a result of this Act, Learnerships have become a requirement for education and training in all the different sectors in the country. Indeed, Learnerships will replace existing apprenticeship training and extend learning into areas not previously covered by apprenticeship system. This Act also legislates the formation of Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs), bodies registered with the Department of Labour, which perform the functions relating to Education and Training for a demarcated economic sector. In the Mining & Minerals Sector, the MQA serves as the SETA; it has also played a significant role as the Standard Generating Body for the sector. A procedure manual was developed to provide the information necessary for the functioning and administration of Learnerships in the Mining and Minerals Sector. The document will be revised and updated from time to time to keep it abreast with developments nationally and within the sector.
The Relationship between qualifications, learnerships and skills programmes
A qualification is defined as follows: A planned combination of learning outcomes which has a defined purpose or purposes, and which is intended to provide qualifying learners with applied competence and a basis for further learning. And
The formal recognition of the achievement of the required number and type of credits and such other requirements at specified levels of the NQF as may be determined by the relevant South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) bodies. A qualification is registered by SAQA on the National Qualifications Framework.
A learnership, unlike either a qualification or a skills programme, is a process or vehicle that leads to the achievement of a qualification. A learnership is not, however, necessarily the only means of acquiring the qualification. The relationship between qualifications, skills programmes and learnerships is indicated in the attached model – Appendix A. It is possible that more than one skills programme may be designed from the list of unit standards comprising a single qualification. A skills programme can be considered a mini-qualification in that it comprises an agreed cluster of unit standards (credits towards a registered qualification.) It goes further than a qualification in that the design of the programme may specify the sequence in which the unit standards must be achieved and the practical (workplace) experience that forms part of the programme.
A skills programme, when completed, will constitute credit towards a NQF registered qualification. This means that some, or all of the unit standards in the skills programme form part of the list of unit standards comprising a qualification. Credits obtained during the course of a skills programme will thus constitute credits towards the qualification. The Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) registers a skills programme.