APEL.Q Case studiesSouth Africa APEL.Q case study in training and the world of work

Fruit growing industry


The candidates in this Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) project are from the agricultural sector and are farm workers, pack house workers, youth on farms, and seasonal workers. Due to the seasonal nature of the work they do, most do not currently have a permanent employment and function as migrant farm workers across the farms in areas of the Western Cape. The skills development challenge is to provide RPL to them, and to enable them to achieve recognition and reward in the form of awards of credits. This will enable them to progress to further learning opportunities and focused occupational learning programmes, aligned to career path development in the fruit growing industry. Most of the workers are semi-literate and between the ages of 16 to 65.

A successful project was undertaken by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) with the grain silo workers in 2010. RPL in the fruit growing industry described below follows the same process.

In order to provide critical skills to the workers described above, and to provide them with significant redress and articulation opportunities, the South African Fruit Industry, AgriSETA, Deloitte and SAQA have joined in a partnership to provide a RPL programme and eventual certification.

A particular need of the industry is to ensure that these workers can gain credit towards further learning, become compliant with legislation and standards in the fruit growing industry, and formalise their knowledge, skills and competence as part of the redress and transformation agenda.

The farm owners hope to ensure that all workers are certified against nationally recognised qualifications as evidence of their competence to pick, handle and store fruit according to international industry standards, and health and safety industry/workplace standards.

Based on low staff turnover – in general workers remain in the sector for their full working life – the industry made a strategic decision to embark on a process to recognise the prior learning (including formal, non-formal and informal training) and workplace experience of the farm workers, pack house workers, and seasonal fruit pickers.

The South African fruit industry, together with SAQA, Deloitte and AgriSETA will coordinate a solution to the industry’s critical skills needs through this RPL project.

Procedures and processes

Transferring successful experiences with RPL from one industry to another. Based on the experiences from a successful project with the grain silo industry, a consultative process resulted in RPL being opted as the best solution to meet the industry’s skills development needs. A suitable solution had to meet challenges such as: the size of the industry; the seasonal nature of the business environment; the geographical spread of the farms and workers; a large percentage of illiterate/semi-literate and older workers; socio-economic issues; and a highly regulated working environment affecting skills development in the industry.

Deloitte was contracted to design a customised skills development solution, fully aware that an RPL programme in the agricultural sector could be particularly challenging, especially in terms of adaptability, industry readiness, time-to-adjust to change and finally accessibility to all learners.

Quality assuarance. SAQA’s role is to ensure that overarching enabling policies are in place. Furthermore it gives technical support (in the form of guidance), provides guidance in terms of quality assurance issues with the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), and lobbies for support for the project.

AgriSETA is required to provide some funding for quality assurance and certification through the QCTO. The Fruit Industry will provide infrastructure, RPL resources and the candidates.

Evidence collection process. Deloitte designed a unique computer-based “e-RPL” model which includes a methodology to collect evidence across occupational skills and cognitive levels integrating other “assessment instruments”. It can also be replicated across economic sectors and industries. The e-RPL model was built using the most up-to-date multimedia in the design and development process including audio, written and visual aids – all efforts are aimed at supporting candidates and RPL practitioners (including employers) during the evidence collection process.

Outcomes and ways forward

The design of the Deloitte e-RPL and Assessment Model allows for portability to deliver recognition of prior learning programmes to large numbers of candidates at multiple sites across a wide geographical range within a shorter time, and is a less costly process than traditional RPL programmes.


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