A pilot investigation of the potential impact of implementing the National Qualifications Framework in industry as perceived by organisations, unions and industry training boards.
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South Africa is facing increasing competition as it becomes a more active participant in the "global village". The current South African skills base is inadequate and existing education and training structures are doing little to ensure a high degree of flexibility and multi-skilling. In addition, many people have acquired skills which are not recognised by traditional, formal learning institutions. Future workforces will require a high degree of flexibility and multiple skills in order to keep abreast of the fast changing workplace and technological innovations. Furthermore, vocational training is often perceived as less valuable than an academic education qualification. It is these, and other issues which stimulated some debate around the transformation of education and training in South Africa. The recommended structure to guide this transformation is a national qualifications framework. The National Qualifications Framework (NQF) will form a backdrop for recognition of and awarding of qualifications. The Framework aims to integrate vocational and academic qualifications and maintain internationally comparative standards. This study focusses on the impact the introduction of the Framework is likely to have on industry. It was discovered that on the whole, organisations, unions and industry training boards are in agreement about the need for such a structure and the potential benefits thereof. However, most retain some reservations about the implementation process and the practical considerations of time and money are hindering the full acceptance of the Framework. While the process is in its infancy in many industries, certain other industries are rather well established in the process of implementation. The Framework is far from finalised, and even once fully implemented, will require ongoing maintenance and adaptation. For this reason most participants in this discussion indicated varying degrees of reservation about the overall success of the National Qualifications Framework.
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