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

The Artisan Sector


Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) has an important role to play in South Africa’s skills development agenda. This can be seen as represented by the New Growth path, the National Qualifications Framework Act 67 of 2008, the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) III, and the Human Resources Development Strategy.

Procedures and processes

A partnership between the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), the National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB) and Indlela, a public Trade Test Centre, facilitated the implementation of ARPL to assist with enhancing skills development in South Africa. An ARPL steering committee was established to manage and drive the implementation of ARPL.

The strategy followed was to identify key trades that could serve as pilots for ARPL. These were boiler making, fitting, electrical trades, welding and diesel mechanics. The strategy to prepare for ARPL implementation comprised four activities:

  • the development of an RPL model suitable for artisans;
  • recruitment of ARPL candidates with the cooperation of workers’ unions;
  • the recruitment and training of 20 ARPL advisors; and
  • the development of ARPL Toolkits for each of the selected five trades.

The ARPL model which was developed is based on the requirements of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). This Council is responsible for assuring the quality of the Occupational Sub-Framework of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). The process involves advice and support, assessment and moderation of the theoretical, practical and workplace components of the trade.

In 2013, the recruitment of ARPL candidates took place in collaboration with workers’ unions and 86 small enterprises. A total of 3,995 applications were received of which only 200 could be selected for the pilot study. The candidates were selected to represent gender balance.

Outcomes and ways forward

One of the outcomes of the activity was the importance given to the training of ARPL advisors. A total of 18 RPL advisors were recruited that met the requirements in terms of knowledge and experience, holding Engineering qualifications at NQF level 4. They were trained as ARPL advisors.

Another outcome was the development of ARPL Toolkits that were tested in a workshop to see whether they were user friendly. Moreover, ARPL Toolkits were developed by experts in each trade.

The training of ARPL advisors entailed the use the toolkits to support candidates.

Figures for 2013 showed that 80 per cent of the ARPL candidates had completed the theoretical component of their trade by the end of the year.


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