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RPL

Definition of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

This section provides a definition of RPL and highlights the central purpose of RPL.

1.1 Definition of RPL

The IWH PB’s definition and policy is located within the SAQA framework and definition of RPL and defines RPL as:

The principles and processes through which prior knowledge and skills of a person are made visible, mediated and assessed for the purposes of alternative access and admission, recognition and certification, or further learning and development.

1.2 Purpose

The IWH PB’s RPL process is a multi-dimensional one. It is a process through which non-formal learning, informal learning as well as experience in the workplace 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.

The IWH PB is mandated by SAQA to RPL skilled, experienced and knowledgeable persons against its registered designations, for ease of access and employment in the workplace. It is also expected of the Professional Body to assist, mentor and brief IWH PB recognised RPL providers on mechanisms for RPL against competencies to do a job.

Where individuals undertake a RPL assessment and are deemed not yet competent, the RPL initiative can serve to identify gaps in knowledge or skills. The gaps can then be addressed through targeted learning interventions by IWH PB recognised training providers. In this way, RPL is seen as an important enabling tool to facilitate equity, redress and life-long learning, as well as to ensure that individuals can participate productively in all aspects of the economy and society.

The IWH PB’s approach suggests that RPL assessment against a qualification/unit standard and RPL assessment against a designation are key elements of our RPL initiative, and that the key role of these RPL assessments are to ensure that individuals who are competent, experienced and knowledgeable receive proper recognition for, to either gain the credits against the relevant unit standards and/or a qualification or gets registered against a designation.

2. The role of the IWH PB in supporting related RPL processes

2.1 Principles to support the IWH PB’s RPL processes:

The IWH PB maintains that RPL can support a number of processes and activities related to the further development and employment of already experienced persons in the industry. While the primary purpose of RPL is to award formal credits on the NQF, the IWH PB has adopted a set of core principles to govern the auxiliary applications of RPL that are related to development and employment of experienced persons:

  • The IWH PB will support and promote RPL initiatives
  • RPL should be voluntary for potential candidates. Individuals must be allowed to decide whether they wish to participate in a RPL initiative or not
  • List Item #3The linkages between RPL and development and employment processes should not lead to candidates being coerced into a RPL initiative
  • Where RPL is to be used as part of these other processes, employees must understand the full implications of their participation in the RPL initiative. This includes an understanding of what activities may or may not take place after a RPL initiative.
  • The focus of the IWH PB’s is on what has already been learned and which experience has already been gained and not on the status of the institution, organization or place where the learning was obtained.
  • The IWH PB is mandated by SAQA to recognize those experienced and knowledgeable persons, who have been working in a specific occupation for some time, but due to certain barriers, never had the opportunity to acquire the formal qualification and therefore has difficulty in finding suitable employment due to the legal stipulation in the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its regulations, requiring competency against a NQF registered qualification. As the IWH PB’s designations are all aligned to NQF registered qualifications/designations, the RPL against a designation will be conducted to not just the occupational competencies, but also the NQF equivalent qualification.
  • RPL against the designation is awarded for previous learning or experience and knowledge gained against the key criteria for the specific designation at hand as per the industry’s requirements as well as the underlying NQF qualification/unit standard and will be assessed by screening of a dossier of competency submitted by the candidate as well as the IWH PB’s board assessment for the specific designation.
  • Candidate guidance and support, the preparation of evidence and the development of an appropriate combination of further learning, mentoring and assessment approaches are core to the IWH PB’s RPL practice and will be conducted in cooperation with the IWH PB’s recognised training providers.
  • The IWH PB also believes that RPL can be used to support selection and recruitment policies in a manner that assists companies to meet their employment equity targets and ensures that selection processes are transparent and fair and meet the requirements of a designation, a qualification or its equivalent.
  • The RPL initiative may be also be linked to the IWH PB’s recognised training providers learning programmes and the IWH PB will encourage and mentor its recognised training providers in assisting individuals to access a learning programme that they might otherwise have been excluded from because of a lack of formal qualifications.
  • RPL initiatives can help to make life-long learning and development a reality. By recognising the skills that individuals have, RPL provides access to further learning. It can also boost the confidence of an individual to continue learning, and ensure continuous improvement and development of individuals. This could potentially result in increased skills levels in a company.

3. THE IWH PB’S RPL AGAINST A DESIGNATION INITIATIVE

RPL against a designation will be conducted in accordance with the set outcomes of the OCCUPATION, related to the designations as registered with SAQA. The IWH PB will implement RPL against designations in the following instances:

3.1 RPL against a designation in recognition of foreign training:

The IWH PB conduct RPL against a designations against certain international training programmes such as IRATA (UK) for Rope Access, as their programmes are equivalent to the NQF Rope Access unit standards (qualification).

The same can be done for Scaffolders trained according the CISRS (UK) and PASMA for Towers (where applicable).

3.2 RPL against a designation in recognition of workplace experience:

RPL can also be considered when a person has been working in the field for many years, and/or done in-house training (non-accredited), but never received a formal qualification. In this case, the person will be able to continue working within his/her occupation although he/she has not obtained the formal qualification. Strict criteria and rules will apply for this means of conferring a designation though and the person will have to complete a IWH Prof Body approved ‘RPL BOARD ASSESSMENT’.

RPL against prior learning for designation purposes can also be  conducted if the person did another qualification which might be similar to the IWH PB’s approved underlying qualifications, and if the person pass the ‘RPL BOARD ASSESSMENT’.

4. AUDIT AND EVALUATION OF IWH PB RPL PROCESSES

The IWH PB will regularly conduct thorough audits as well as evaluation of its RPL against designation processes and will make the necessary changes when and where necessary to improve on its processes and procedures.

Any changes to the RPL processes will be discussed for approval by the IWH PB’s Skills & Ratification Committee. The auditing process will include checking the submitted Dossier’s of Competence as well as Assessment processes at the Providers sites. All evidence for the RPL of candidates has to be kept by the provider for a period of 5 years.