What is an apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a work-based route to a qualification for learners who are interested in working in a practical, technical field, so that they can become certified artisans. An apprenticeship is similar to a learnership, except that it is always focused on a trade. Apprentices attend formal instruction sessions at a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college or other training institution to acquire the trade-related knowledge and theory and practical hand skills, and also spend some time in a workplace working under the guidance of a qualified artisan to become proficient in the trade.
Artisans are workers who are qualified to practice a trade in which they apply highly developed manual skills using their hands and technical equipment. Artisans are in high demand in South Africa and globally and many trades are listed as ‘scarce skills’. Therefore, qualified artisans find employment very easily or they can use their skills to start and run their own businesses.
A learnership is a structured learning programme that combines theoretical learning provided by a training institution (e.g. a TVET college) with practical work experience gained while working with an employer. Learners who meet all the requirements for theoretical and practical learning are awarded a registered qualification. Learners do not pay anything to participate in a learnership and receive an allowance (or stipend) to cover the costs of transport, meals, etc. for attending the training and work experience sessions. A formal agreement must be signed by the three main parties involved in its implementation:
The training institution,
The employer, and
This refers to an occupation for which an artisan qualification and relevant trade test is required. All trades are listed by the National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB), the body responsible for moderating trade tests. Examples of listed trades are cabinet maker, chef, diamond cutter, diesel mechanic, electrician, goldsmith, hairdresser, mechatronics technician, millwright, refrigeration mechanic, tailor, toolmaker, upholsterer and welder. The list of trades is published by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) in Government Gazette 35625 of 31 August 2012: http://www.gov.za/sites/www.gov.za/files/35625_gon691.pdf. It lists the occupations for which artisan qualifications are required.
An apprentice is employed through an apprenticeship contract signed with an employer and a training provider to complete a full apprenticeship programme. After completion of the programme the apprentices who are ready can apply to do trade tests at an accredited trade test centre. If they are successful, they will be certified as artisans, e.g. as a cabinet maker, diamond cutter, goldsmith, hairdresser, tailor, toolmaker or upholsterer.
Apprentices earn while they learn as they are paid for the time they spend working with an employer during their apprenticeship. Apprenticeships equip learners with skills that enable them to find employment, or enable them to run their own businesses. Artisans are in high demand in South Africa as many trades are listed as “scarce skills”. The shortage of skilled trade workers is confirmed by a Talent Shortage Survey conducted in May 2015. It found that, for the fourth consecutive year, vacancies for these workers continue to be the most difficult to fill.
It is possible, under certain conditions, for persons to apply for a trade test to become an artisan through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). A process called Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) will be used for the listed trades. (This replaces the previous process which was referred to as ‘Section 28’, on the basis of Section 28 of the Manpower Training Act of 1981, which has been repealed.) The term ‘apprentice’ is not used in this website for these RPL applicants; it is only used to refer to those who complete the full training after signing an apprenticeship contract.
How does an apprenticeship work?
The SETAs do not all follow the same process for apprenticeships, so you need to check the process for the trade that falls within the scope of the specific SETA. For example, the ‘diesel fuel injection mechanic’ and ‘automotive engine fitter’ trades fall under the merSETA. In addition, the National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB) could introduce other processes and/or requirements.
The merSETA provided the following overview of the process it follows for its apprenticeships (www.skillsportal.co.za).
- The apprentice is registered in a listed trade in terms of the prescribed training provisions.
- An agreement is signed by the employer and the apprentice (or a guardian, if the apprentice is under 18 years of age).
- The apprentice is “indentured” (i.e. ‘contracted’ into an agreement) in a trade.
- A four-subject N2 certificate with the relevant trade theory has to be completed at a TVET college. Employers pay for classes and assessment fees at the TVET college.
- A trade test application is made to the merSETA once all relevant training has been completed.
- A trade test/assessment is conducted at a merSETA-accredited trade test centre.
- If successful, the apprentice is awarded a National Trade Certificate and deemed to be a qualified artisan.
- For admission requirements and programme duration, visit the merSETA website (merseta.org.za) or call your nearest merSETA Regional Office.
What are the different routes to becoming an artisan?
The merSETA describes five routes a person can follow to become an artisan, although these may not be applicable to all trades.
- Apprenticeship contract: A person undergoes a structured training programme for a specific trade to develop the required knowledge, theory and practical skills and to complete the prescribed workplace experience under the guidance of a coach (who must be an artisan) over a period of three to four years. The term ‘apprentice’ is used in this website to refer to these learners. (They were previously referred to as ‘Section 13’ apprentices, on the basis of Section 13 of the Manpower Training Act of 1981, which has been repealed.)
- National Certificate (Vocational): A person undergoes a structured training programme for an NC (V) qualification for a specific trade to obtain the required theoretical, practical skills and supplementary training and exposure at a workplace.
- National Accredited Technical Education Diploma (NATED): A person undergoes a structured training programme towards this diploma that covers technical and theoretical knowledge, and the workplace knowledge and skills required in a chosen occupational/vocational area.
- Engineering Learnership: A person enrols for an engineering learnership at NQF Level 4, and completes the required 80 weeks of workplace experience.
- Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL): A person provides proof of having obtained adequate theoretical and skills training and workplace experience (previously referred to as ‘Section 28’ applicants on the basis of Section 28 of the Manpower Training Act of 1981, which has been repealed). A process called Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) will be used for the listed trades.
People who have met all the requirements in any of these five routes can apply to do a trade test.
[Note: Details on the National Certificate (Vocational) and NATED programme are provided under TECHNICAL AND VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING in this website. Learnerships are described in the previous section. The requirements relating to candidates who apply for the trade test on the basis of Recognition of Prior Learning are described in this document under the heading: How can one become an artisan through RPL?]
The NC (V) and NATED routes to a trade test
Examples of the NC (V) and NATED routes to a trade test are provided in the table below, although some details may have changed since being posted on the merSETA website: http://www.merseta.org.za/SkillsDevelopment/LearningProgrammes/OccupationalTrainingFETColleges.aspx. The requirements for the different routes to trade tests are described in the Trade Test Regulations (2014) issued by the Department of Higher Education and Training. These regulations are aimed at achieving a single, common national standard across all economic sectors for artisan development. Therefore, this table is provided only as an example, and learners should contact their local TVET college to determine the latest criteria and availability of the programmes.
|Programme Type||Full time NATED 191 Subject Courses
(old curriculum currently under review)
|Full Time New Curriculum Vocational – NC (V), NQF Levels 2 to 4||FETWIL-NATED Apprenticeship
TVET college Work Integrated Learning Apprenticeship – NATED (introduced at selected Colleges only)
|FETWIL-NC (V) Apprenticeship
TVET College Work Integrated Learning Apprenticeship – NC (V) (introduced at selected Colleges only)
|Entrance Requirements||Grade 8 school leaving certificate – however if Mathematics, English and Science subject content has been forgotten, then a bridging course is required.
Entrance tests are applied
|Preferably Grade 12 with passes in Mathematics and English, with Physical Science an advantage for entrance into the programme.
Entrance tests are applied
|Minimum N1 or Grade 9 with relevant Engineering subjects and subject scores ideally in excess of 70% or more.
Entrance tests are applied
|Grade 12 with passes of 50% or more in Mathematics and English, with Physical Science an advantage.
Entrance tests are applied
|Duration to Trade Test||Approximately 6 years||Approximately 6 years||3.5 to 4 years||3.5 to 4 years|
|Advantages & Disadvantages of each option||1. These courses are suitable for learners who have been out of school for some time or who left school after Grade 9.
2. These courses are also suitable for learners who have never understood or studied engineering before.
3. After completing N3, learners have to find an apprenticeship or learnership with an employer/company in order to complete an occupational qualification and become an artisan.
4. There is no workplace experience in this learning programme – only theory
|1. This program focuses on deepening the knowledge base and practical application of a chosen occupation. It is based on the premise that true vocational competence requires a broader understanding in order to solve complex problems.
2. The programme offers good preparation for entry into further engineering related studies at a university of technology – provided the learner achieves university entrance marks.
3. TVET college teachers are still adjusting to the complexities of teaching this new curriculum – but making good progress year on year and student marks are improving as well.
|1. Spaces at colleges are always limited by the number of employers / companies offering apprenticeships for this programme – therefore only the best candidates are selected.
2. An apprenticeship contract is signed after 6 months into the programme and the apprentice wages are earned for hours worked at the employer/ company.
3. Additional support is offered by the TVET college in Year 3 & 4 for those apprentices who wish to continue studies at a university of technology.
4. The NATED curriculum is theoretically based – this learning programme therefore includes the simulated practical and workplace experience for entrance to a trade test.
5. The NATED curriculum is currently under review for updating purposes.
|1. Spaces at colleges are limited by number of employers / companies offering apprenticeships for this programme – therefore only the best candidates are selected.
2. An apprenticeship contract is signed after 6 months into the programme and apprentice wages are earned for hours worked at the employer/ company.
3. Additional support is offered by the TVET college in Year 3 & 4 for those apprentices who wish to continue studies at a university of technology.
4. This curriculum was introduced into TVET colleges in 2007, it is internationally comparable and starting to gain acceptance from employers / companies as student performance improves.
|Programme for Year 1||N1 to N3
Full time over three semesters
|NCV 2 Full time – includes knowledge component, simulated practical and work-based experience||N2 four subjects over first trimester + simulated practical over second trimester + workplace experience over third trimester
Apprenticeship contract signed during third trimester and apprentice earns wages for days at the workplace only.
|NCV 2 First six months as full time programme, then switching to weekly alternating sessions of subject classes + simulated practical at the college workshop + workplace experience at employer.
Apprenticeship contract signed after first six months. The apprentice earns wages for days at the workplace only.
|Programme for Year 2||Institutional training sponsored by an employer||NC (V) 3 Full time – includes knowledge component, simulated practical and work-based experience||N3 four subjects over first trimester + simulated practical over second trimester + workplace experience over third trimester||NC (V) 3 + simulated practical + workplace experience alternating on a weekly basis|
|Programme for Year 3||Apprentice – Year 1 in workplace experiential learning||NC (V) 4 Full time – includes knowledge component, simulated practical and work-based experience||N4 four subjects over first trimester + simulated practical over second trimester + workplace experience over third trimester||NC (V) 4 + simulated practical + workplace experience alternating on a weekly basis – ending in final college exams|
|Programme for Year 4||Apprenticeship – Year 2||Apprenticeship – Year 1 Alternatively find employment as a semi-skilled worker||Workplace experience continues ending in a Trade Test in this fourth year or Year five||Workplace experience continues ending in a Trade Test|
|Programme for Year 5||Apprenticeship – Year 3||Apprenticeship – Year 2||Enter permanent employment or continue with part-time studies towards N5 and N6 ending in preparation and writing of the National Government Certificate of Competence exam – i.e., equivalent to a National Diploma.
Based on academic performance, it is also possible to enter into Engineering Diploma studies at a university of technology.
|Enter permanent employment or entrance to university of technology for studies towards a National Diploma and B.Tech qualification.|
|Programme for Year 6||Trade Test||Trade Test|
Competency Based Modular Training (CBMT) for apprentices
Some TVET colleges, such as False Bay College in Cape Town (http://www.falsebaycollege.co.za) and other organisations provide Competency Based Modular Training (CBMT) in their workshops for the practical application of the trade requirements to enable apprentices to acquire essential skills.
Example of Competency Based Modular Training (CBMT) offered by the Automobile Association of SA
Apprenticeships offered: Competency Based Modular Training is a training system for apprentices who have made the decision to learn a trade. This method of training focuses strongly on the practical application of trade requirements and the learning of essential skills in the workshop. AA Technical College currently offers trades following the CMBT system including Automotive Electrician, Automotive Engine Fitter and Diesel Mechanic.
Entry requirements for apprentices: The minimum age and educational qualifications for commencing an apprenticeship is 16 years of age, with a Grade 10 (Standard 8) pass however, a Grade 11 (Standard 9) or Matric (Standard10) pass with mathematics and science is preferable.
The training programme: A total of 4 levels must be completed over 1½ to 4 years, with apprentices attending an average of 6 weeks of institutional training during this period. These training sessions are scheduled over either 6 months per level, in line with the Accelerated Artisan Training Project (AATP), or over 12 months per level. During these training sessions apprentices undergo theory, practical and level exam preparation training. The training is scheduled one week at a time, after which the apprentice returns to work to practice the newly learnt skills. The employer may choose to qualify the apprentice between 18 months (minimum) and 4 years. This choice would influence the number of visits to the Technical College per year and the time spent away from the workshop.
How does an apprenticeship work under an apprenticeship contract?
This process is summarised as follows – an apprentice:
- Has signed an apprenticeship contract;
- Attends formal training with a training provider;
- Must have a workplace for completing prescribed on-site training;
- Must complete all the prescribed tests, assignments and workplace learning activities;
- Will do a trade test as a final assessment; and
- Will be certified as an artisan after successful completion of the trade test.
Here is a more detailed description of how an apprenticeship works.
The apprenticeship training consists of three components:
- Formal training at a training institution covering the occupational knowledge of the trade that is contextualised to the specific tasks in the trade, such as fault finding, manufacturing, maintenance and repair;
- Skills training in the application of the knowledge and the use of the tools of the trade in a workshop or simulated setting that could be at the training provider; and
- The application of knowledge and skills during practical training at a workplace under the supervision of a coach who must be a qualified artisan in the specific trade.
The training schedule for each trade specifies the components that must be completed during the apprenticeship in preparation for the trade test. The employer will use the training schedule (available from the SETA) to develop the practical implementation plan that includes the dates when each module must be completed. The employer must provide a coach who will guide the apprentice and ensure that all elements of the training schedule are covered during the apprenticeship training and signed off in the Logbook or training record.
The on-the-job practical application of the knowledge and skills acquired in the real workplace is the critical component of the apprenticeship. This is where the apprentice is exposed to real life situations in which artisans exercise their trades. During the workplace learning, the apprentice must be exposed to the entire scope of activities prescribed in the training schedule and trade qualification to ensure that the qualified artisan will be a productive worker in the industry.
During the apprenticeship, knowledge and theory is assessed by the training institution, and the prescribed workplace activities are recorded in a Logbook/training record and signed off by the coach. At the end, the apprentice applies with the prescribed form through the relevant SETA to do the trade test. When registering for the trade test the apprentice must submit proof of having met all the requirements relating to the specific trade, including the successful completion of all the tests/assignments and the practical tasks in the workplace.
The trade test is the final integrated summative assessment conducted by a registered assessor at one of the accredited trade test centres across the country. The employer and the SETA will provide details of the trade test centres that are conveniently situated for apprentices.
How long does it take to complete the training and work experience in an apprenticeship?
Most apprenticeships take three or four years to complete. However, if the apprentice completed formal study or work experience relevant to the specific trade previously this could be assessed and taken into account to reduce the time taken to complete the apprenticeship.
The apprenticeship training plan will specify the periods for completing the components of the apprenticeship. For example, apprentices would need to complete a minimum of 122 weeks of training in the following areas before they can apply for a trade test:
- 10 weeks of trade-related theory;
- 32 weeks of off-the-job practical training to develop the skills to apply the tools of the trade; and
- 80 weeks of on-the-job learning in a real workplace under supervision of a coach.
What is required in the apprenticeship agreement and contract?
A formal Agreement that covers the duration of the apprenticeship is signed at the start between three parties.
- The apprentice will complete the apprenticeship with an employer.
- The employer – where the apprentice will complete the practical work-based learning under the guidance of an artisan – must be approved or accredited by the SETA to confirm that the workplace has the necessary equipment and expertise and meets any other requirements for the apprenticeship in the particular trade.
- A training provider will be contracted by the employer to provide the occupational knowledge component of the apprenticeship and/or the practical skills training in a workshop or laboratory, for which the provider must be accredited. The National Artisan Development Support Centre (NADSC) provides a list of training providers accredited to offer apprenticeships, with a search facility to search per province and city. (http://nadsc.dhet.gov.za/site/db/Accredited%20Skills%20Development%20Providers.aspx)
The Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) that is responsible for the specific trade in the sector (e.g. chemical, construction or engineering sector) will facilitate and register this agreement. The apprentice will do the trade test at an accredited trade test centre after meeting all the requirements and applying for the trade test.
In addition, the employer will sign an employment contract with the apprentice for the duration of the apprenticeship that binds the employer to provide the opportunities for the apprentice to complete the prescribed workplace activities. Together with the Agreement, the contract will ensure the apprentice’s protection under relevant acts relating to the Basic Conditions of Employment and Occupational Health and Safety.
What are the entry requirements into an apprenticeship?
The entry requirements are not the same for all apprenticeships, as the type of trade will determine the required previous learning. Generally, the minimum entry requirements relate to age, language and subjects completed at school, as described below.
- The person must be at least 16 years of age, but the maximum age is not stipulated;
- Language proficiency must be on Grade 10 level;
- Most apprenticeships stipulate fundamental knowledge in subjects such as Mathematics, Science, Technical Terminology or Drawing on at least Grade 10 level that was acquired through the school system or through programmes offered by the TVET colleges, e.g. NATED programmes or the NC (V);
- Some apprenticeships accept learners who passed Grade 7 Maths and Science;
- Some employers only take in apprentices with Grade 12, irrespective of the stipulated entry requirements, and also apply other criteria in selecting learners that meet internal organisational requirements; and
- Many trades require applicants to meet physical requirements that are relevant to the particular trade, e.g. to pass medical health and physical fitness assessments. Such assessments are usually done by the employer.
Learners who do not meet the entry requirements relating to previous learning can register at the National Artisan Development Support Centre (NADSC) for the Generic Trade Preparation Programme, in which public TVET colleges offer bridging courses in Mathematics, Engineering Science, Electronics, Computer Skills, Life Orientation and legislation relevant to artisan development. (http://nadsc.dhet.gov.za)
Where can I find information on apprenticeships for which I can apply?
The key to success in finding an apprenticeship is to find an employer that is making his/her workplace available for apprentices.
Some employers advertise for apprentices on their websites, for example:
- Automobile Association of South Africa (aa.co.za), and
- SA Airways (flysaa.com) (click on careers on the bottom bar).
Some general websites provide information on apprenticeship opportunities, for example:
- http://careersportal.co.za/learnerships/apprenticeship.html is used by the companies such as the following ones to advertise apprenticeships: BMW, City of Cape Town, Paarl Media, Pioneer Foods, SA Breweries, SAPPI and Volvo;
- http://www.gostudy.net/: this website allows you to type in what you want to study, for example: http://www.gostudy.net/occupation/mechatronicengineer or http://www.gostudy.net/occupation/carpenter);
- puffandpass.co.za/category/apprenticeship; and
You can contact the following organisations directly or through their websites to find out about apprenticeship opportunities:
- The National Artisan Development Support Centre (NADSC) coordinates the placement of engineering learners from TVET colleges at accredited workplaces for the on-the-job practical component of the apprenticeship (http://nadsc.dhet.gov.za).
- Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) provide information on their websites on the apprenticeships they support.
- Many of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges are involved in apprenticeships.
- Many public entities such as national/provincial government departments and municipalities take in apprentices.
- State-owned enterprises (for example, Airports Company of SA, Eskom, National Energy Regulator, Rand Water, Telkom and Transnet) participate in the artisan training drive.
What is the cost of an apprenticeship programme and what are the funding arrangements for apprenticeships?
There is no cost for the apprentice who completes an apprenticeship programme under an apprenticeship contract. Any costs for attending classes at a training provider will be covered by the employer. Generally, the Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) pays a grant to the employer to cover costs associated with an apprentice. However, you will have to fund your own training if you enrol for a programme at a TVET college or other training institution that prepares you for a trade (e.g. to be an electrician or goldsmith) without being enrolled in an apprenticeship.
Do apprentices receive money during apprenticeships?
Apprentices do receive wages for the hours they work for the employer, but the amounts are not the same for all apprenticeships. The rates of some apprenticeships are determined by the relevant Bargaining Council, and are adjusted annually. The table below indicates the wages determined by the Metal Industries Bargaining Council for the period 1 July 2014 to 30 June 2015 for Electrician and other trades.
|Year of the apprenticeship||Minimum weekly wage rates|
|First Year||R 1 196.53|
|Second Year||R 1 320.72|
|Third Year||R 1573.12|
|Fourth Year||R 2 330.29|
What is the trade test, how do I apply for it, and what do I get if I pass the test?
Applying for the trade test
Once apprentices have successfully completed all the tests, assignments and practical requirements of the knowledge/theory and workplace learning of the apprenticeship, they can apply to do a trade test that serves as the external final summative assessment. The trade test includes practical tasks that the apprentice must complete within a specified period determined by the National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB) for the specific trade. NAMB is the body responsible for monitoring and moderating all processes related to trade testing, which includes the registration of assessors and moderators, ensuring the quality of trade testing and making sure that the tests remain relevant to the needs of industry.
Applications to do a trade test can be submitted through the relevant Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA) or its regional offices. The applications are reviewed against the stipulated criteria to ensure that all necessary evidence and documents are provided to qualify for the trade test. Should the evidence submitted be sufficient then the application for the trade test will be processed and forwarded to the trade test centre closest to the applicant. Applicants can also book for trade tests online at the National Artisan Development Support Centre (NADSC) at http://nadsc.dhet.gov.za/.
Trade test centres
The trade test is done at a centre that is accredited by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) to conduct trade tests. Trade tests can be done at INDLELA – the government subsidised centre on Old Pretoria Road in Olifantsfontein – or in many other trade test centres across the country. The National Artisan Development Support Centre (NADSC) provides a list of centres that can be searched by province and city: http://nadsc.dhet.gov.za/site/db/Accredited%20List%20of%20Testing%20Centres.aspx.
The cost of the trade test and who pays for it
The cost of trade tests varies greatly as some trade test centres are operated as private businesses. The government subsidises trade tests conducted at INDLELA, the test centre in Olifantsfontein near Pretoria. The cost of trade tests at INDELA ranges between R 250 and R 450, depending on the trade, while the cost at private trade test centres could vary between R 1 500 and R 3 000.
The funding arrangement for the apprenticeship will be stipulated in the contract signed by the apprentice with the employer at the start of the apprenticeship. There are no stipulations relating to the payment for the trade test. The cost could be covered by the employer of the apprentice or by the relevant SETA. If no such funding is available, the apprentice will have to pay for the test.
Certification as an artisan
Apprentices who successfully complete the trade test will be certified as artisans and will receive a certificate issued by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO). The certificate will indicate the qualification awarded and the trade. This certificate is commonly referred to as the “red seal”.
What processes are there to ensure the quality of trade testing?
The National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB) is responsible for the monitoring, moderating and quality assurance of all processes related to trade testing. NAMB registers all assessors, moderators and others involved in the development of assessments and trade testing. NAMB also ensures that trade testing remains relevant to the needs of industry and that the apprenticeships enable learners to become competent artisans.
All accredited trade test centres report to the NAMB as per pre-determined requirements to enable the NAMB to monitor their performance. NAMB therefore acts as the ‘ombudsman’ for artisan development and any concerns relating to trade tests may be reported to it.
How can I become an artisan through Recognition of Prior Learning?
People who have many years of experience working in a job related to a trade and who meet certain educational requirements can apply for a trade test based on the knowledge and skills they have acquired. (This process is sometimes still referred to as ‘Section 28’, based on the Manpower Training Act which has been repealed. The new process is called Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning, or ARPL.) They do not have to complete the programme described above for contracted apprentices and are not referred to as apprentices. Such applications for trade tests are processed through a Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process, which enables persons who meet the prerequisite learning and work experience for the trade test to enter a supported process to do the trade test.
The merSETA RPL trade test application form describes the conditions, process and requirements to qualify for a trade test on the basis of RPL, as well as the documents to be submitted with the application (http://www.merseta.org.za/SkillsDevelopment/LearningProgrammes/Section28.aspx). The form clarifies the qualifying criteria, which include the number of years of relevant work experience, the type and level of qualification, and the subjects (e.g. mathematics and engineering science).
The merSETA website also describes the following conditions under which former ‘Section 13’ apprentices can apply for a trade test through RPL:
- Former apprentices who meet the Section 13 trade test requirements, but their contract got rescinded before qualifying as an artisan; and
- Former apprentices under Section 13 whose contracts were terminated before they could qualify for a trade test; and either have proven eligibility for an Artisan RPL trade test based on acquired skills from the formal training part under Section 13, or have undergone additional approved training to meet the requirement.
The merSETA describes the RPL process for a trade test (this was previously known as a ‘Section 28’ application) as follows:
- An application form is completed and signed by the applicant and forwarded to the respective merSETA regional office together with original certified copies of service certificates, educational certificates and identity documents.
- A Quality Assurer (where necessary) would give guidance to the applicant in terms of undertaking a pre-assessment interview.
- A subject matter expert (in the trade in the RPL application) at an accredited training centre/provider conducts a pre-assessment interview with the applicant, using the relevant training schedules as a tool for both theory and practice. The subject matter expert will provide a detailed formal evaluation report on the candidate.
- If the applicant meets the requirements, the merSETA will apply for a trade test date and inform the applicant.
- On successful completion of the trade test, the candidate will receive a national trade test certificate and is regarded as a qualified artisan.
Please note again that other Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) are likely to have different processes as they will deal with trades that differ from those that fall within the scope of the merSETA. In addition, the National Artisan Moderation Body (NAMB) could introduce other processes and/or requirements.
What support is available to apprentices?
The employer will allocate a mentor/coach to guide and support the apprentice in the practical, on-the-job workplace learning component of the apprenticeship. The mentor must be a qualified artisan in the same trade for which the learner is registered. During the off-the-job training, the facilitators of the training provider will guide and support learners to gain the trade-related knowledge and understanding and develop the practical skills of the trade.
The National Artisan Development Support Centre (NADSC) provides career guidance, a list of training institutions (Skills Development providers) participating in apprenticeship training, and a list of trade test centres, as well as other information relevant to apprenticeships (http://nadsc.dhet.gov.za/).
The NADSC coordinates the placement of engineering learners from TVET colleges at accredited workplaces for the on-the-job practical component of the apprenticeship, and apprentices can apply through the website for placement with employers. The centre also provides bridging courses for learners who do not meet the entry requirements into apprenticeships in subjects such as mathematics, computer skills, engineering science, or technical subjects like electronics.
TVET colleges involved in apprenticeships also provide support services to apprentices. The following are examples of services offered at the Westlake Campus of the False Bay College in Cape Town.
- “People who have some years of practical experience but who do not have formal qualifications may arrange for an evaluation at Westlake Campus, followed by a trade test booked through the relevant SETA. If you’ve been employed in the industry in trade-related work for at least 4 to 5 years, and are not sure of your competency level, you can attend a two or three-day practical assessment at Westlake Campus. This will provide you with a clear indication of the modular training that you need to take before applying for a qualifying trade test at the relevant SETA.
- We also offer trade test preparation courses, and you can take the relevant trade test at the Westlake Campus” (http://www.falsebaycollege.co.za).
Majuba TVET College, another public TVET college, assists with the placement of apprentices with employers. An example is the placement of 10 of their engineering graduates into an apprenticeship opportunity with a Sibanye Gold mine in Johannesburg, one of the world’s largest gold producers. The graduates were successfully placed at the mine after interviews and aptitude testing by the Sibanye Gold Mine (http://www.majuba.edu.za).