Do you have 3-4 years or more of work experience in a field without a relevant formal qualification? Look no further, RPL may be for you.
Having worked for many years in one field without a formal qualification in it can be demoralising. Sometimes, all the years of knowledge, skills and experience seem to be in vain without a certificate backing it up. With most, if not all senior positions requiring vast experience of years with a qualification, this becomes a stumbling block for many. Formal qualifications have become even more vital with the widespread job losses which were as a result of the Pandemic. Do not worry, there is Recognition of Prior Learning and it may be the answer you may have been looking for.
Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is a way of recognising the prior learning and experience of a person who has been working for some years in a particular field without a formal qualification and/or having undergone a trade test, and who is therefore not recognised as qualified. This is believed to be the case with most people in our industry and in general within the manufacturing, engineering and related services industry/ sector (or the m-e-r sector). This process is made possible by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and its relevant partners for the development of a National Policy for the Implementation of the Recognition of Prior Learning.
What is RPL?
The National Policy for the Implementation of the Recognition of Prior Learning (SAQA, 2013:5) explains RPL as ‘the principles and the processes through which the prior knowledge, experience and/or skills of a person are made visible, mediated and are assessed for the purposes of alternative access and admission, recognition and certification, or further learning and development.’
The RPL process is multi-dimensional- non-formal learning and informal learning are measured, mediated for recognition across different contexts and certified against the requirements for credit, access, inclusion or advancement in the formal education and training system, or workplace.
Therefore, RPL can be regarded as an assessment process of an individual’s learning achieved outside the formal education and training environment. This means that regardless of where, when and how a person achieved the learning, if such learning meets the requirements of a unit standard or a qualification, it could be recognised for credits subject to the specified criteria.
How does it work?
The SAQA RPL Policy states that ‘there is no fundamental difference in the assessment of previously acquired skills and knowledge and the assessment of skills and knowledge acquired through a current learning programme.’ This means that the candidate seeking credits for previously acquired skills and knowledge must still comply with all the requirements as stated in unit standards and qualifications.
Never think that the RPL process is easy, quick or by-passes the relevant criteria. The candidate for RPL is required to produce enough evidence in order to be deemed competent. The process takes time and thought on the part of all concerned in order to successfully complete it, but the results are wonderful!
This process has proven to be valuable for many MISA members with experience who in the past have not had an opportunity to acquire formal qualifications.
How much does it costs?
Just as the process is not a speedy one, the costs are not excessively cheap but they are less expensive than attending a formal training and undergoing the assessment. Different training institutions charge different rates for the RPL process as per their RPL policies and processes. A member intending to undergo the RPL process will need to do their homework and research suitable institutions and the costs thereof.
RPL against Trade
A career in the manufacturing and engineering sector offers a wide range of exciting opportunities to ambitious individuals who would like to embark on a technical career. The Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA) plays a critical role in the national economy, and trained production workers, artisans, technicians and engineers, which are in great demand in the country.
RPL covers a person who has been working for some years in a particular trade but has not passed a trade test and is therefore not recognised as a qualified artisan. After the applicant’s suitability for a trade test has been determined, the applicant will then undergo a trade test at merSETA accredited trade test centre. The following conditions do apply:
This means that throughout their employment members need to ensure that they retain proof from the employer for all work experience acquired. This has proven quite critical when members embark on an RPL process after the previous employer has shut down. Unfortunately, without the written proof, all of the years of hard work cannot be proven and the RPL process is regrettably impeded.
Among others, the advantages of the RPL process are:
Challenges aligned with RPL are:
Is it worth it?
Definitely! Imagine being offered an opportunity to obtain formal recognition for knowledge gained throughout life, through the workplace and own experiences. In most cases, employees wish to study and equip themselves, however, the stress of attending classes and juggling between work and studies and obtaining funding becomes a stumbling block. Therefore, RPL is definitely worth it.
MISA provides 80 MISA members, per annum, the opportunity to further their tertiary studies through a recognised and/or duly registered institution by means of a benefit of up to R10 000 study assistance, subject to specified criteria. Our members could use this study assistance to do their RPL for a trade test in order to be qualified artisans, based on the applicable terms and conditions.