Accredited Qualifications – Says Who?

AQ Says whoI have heard a number of stories recently regarding organisations and individuals offering so called “Accredited Qualifications“. This is great that people are out there trying to improve standards of training in the industry, but there is a problem…

Many of these ‘offers’ are for training that holds no formal accreditation in South Africa even though they have the label. So who are they accredited by?

So who are they “Accredited” by?

Surely to claim a course is accredited, one must have had the training evaluated against a fixed set of criteria and standards by an external regulatory or standards setting body universally recognised?

The sad reality is there is so much misinformation floating around that most people simply believe what they read or hear without checking the facts first.

I recently saw an advert for training with a prominent title “SAQA Accredited Qualification”, (SAQA – South African Qualifications Authority) yet when asked, the organisation admitted that the course was “based on” a SAQA qualification, yet was not actually accredited by SAQA. That statement alone showed ignorance as SAQA does not accredited courses, they register them. It is the SETAs (Sector Education Training Authority) that accredit training courses and providers. In the next few years this will change to the QCTO (Quality Council for Trades and Occupations).

This advert was pure false advertising designed to get people to pay money for a course that had no intention of issuing a formally recognised qualification.

It is true, anyone can provide a training course they have made up to whomever is willing to pay – but to call it accredited means some external body must have evaluated it. Even saying “Accredited by the ASA” is okay as at least this means anyone who recognises the ASA knows that the ASA’s standards have been applied. (By the way the ASA does not provide training, this is simply an example) But to say a course is a SAQA Accredited Qualification when it has no such accreditation is a downright lie designed to mislead.

The story gets even more bizarre. I was told, “When we eventually get formal accreditation for our course, we will then simply ‘qualify’ everyone who has done the course with us in the past”.

What are they thinking?? This almost goes to show they have not even applied for accreditation for their course, as if they had they would realise it simply does not work that way.

Formal qualifications in South Africa have to go through a stringent quality assurance process to ensure validity, reliability and consistency to name just a few of the criteria. Now if someone did an ‘informal’ course with a training provider a few years back, and now the organisation has gained accreditation for their training, how on earth are they going to prove that the training done way back, or even the assessment that was carried out (if one even was done) was valid, reliable and consistent? Any moderator would immediately regard this as suspect.

Yes recognition of prior learning is entrenched in the SA qualifications framework, but the evidence of compliance and competence is still required and is still as stringent as if the person was only doing the course now. It is NOT a short cut bypassing the sometimes bureaucratic process of ensuring validity, reliability and consistency. Simply put, the training cannot have been consistent as without accreditation there was nothing to be consistent with.

The bottom line is – if someone is offering an “Accredited” course, ask to see proof of that accreditation and then check it with the organisation who provided the accreditation to see exactly what it means before parting with your money.