Understanding the Organising Framework for Occupations

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The Department of Labour, with the assistance of International organisations introduced an Organising Framework for Occupations in February 2005 to align all skills development activities in South Africa. Des Squires discusses the functions and operations of this framework.


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By Des Squire
The NQF provides for a fully integrated and needs driven occupational learning system that will meet the needs of industry. To achieve this, extensive use will be made of an "Organising Framework for Occupations' (OFO). The OFO will set the base for linking various occupations to specific skills and will assist in identifying further training needs. The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) will use OFO?s as the basis for developing occupational qualifications to meet the needs of specific industries.

The Department of Labour, with the assistance of International organisations introduced an Organising Framework for Occupations in February 2005 to align all skills development activities in South Africa.
The OFO is a skill-based classification system, which encompasses all occupations in the South African context. The classification of occupations is based on a combination of skills levels and skills specialisation which makes it easy to locate a specific occupation within the framework.

A job is seen as a set of roles or tasks to be performed by an individual.
An occupation describes a series of jobs or specialised tasks, performed by an individual, which can be grouped together for the purpose of this classification.

Identified occupations are classified according to two main criteria - skill level and skill specialisation. The concept of a skill is used in the context of competency rather than a description of a task or function.
The skill level of a job or occupation is related to competent performance of tasks associated with a job or occupation. Skill level is an attribute of an occupation, not of an individual and can be measured by
? The level or amount of formal education and/or training (Theory)
? The amount of previous experience in a related occupation (Work experience)
? The amount of on-the job training usually required to perform the set of tasks required for that occupation competently (Practical application)

It is therefore possible to make a comparison between the skill level of an occupation and the required educational level on the National Qualification Framework.
Formal education is defined in terms of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED-97) but this is only one of the measures used to determine the skills level.

With the onset of the QCTO and the use of the OFO it stands to reason that HR departments will need to align or re-design profiles for all positions or occupations in a company as closely as possible to the description given in the OFO.
This will be to the benefit of all employees in terms of education and training and will add greatly to the ease of achieving a qualification by means of RPL assessment. In addition it will have advantages in terms of competency based recruiting and selection efforts.
Occupational qualifications will therefore consist of common or core learning and specialised learning components. These components will replace Fundamental, Core and Electives.
Making use of OFO?s it is possible to make a comparison between the skills level of an occupation and the general education level associated with that occupation on the NQF.

In addition we can identify with the entry, intermediate and advanced levels referred to in the National Skills Development Strategy.

Skills Levels are defined in terms of formal education and training, previous experience and on the job training.
Examples
Occupations at skills level 1 have a level of skills corresponding to
An NQF level 1 or 2 qualification
Possibly a short period of on the job training
Occupations at skills level 2 have a level of skills corresponding to
An NQF level 3 to 5 qualification
At least one year relevant experience may substitute for the qualification
In some instances relevant experience may be required in addition to the qualification
Occupations at skills level 3 have a level of skills corresponding to
An NQF level 6 qualification
At least three years relevant experience may substitute for the qualification
Experience and or on the job training may be required in addition to the qualification
Occupations at skills level 4 have a level of skills corresponding to
NQF level 7 to 10 qualification
At least five years relevant experience may substitute for the qualification
Experience and or on the job training may be required in addition to the qualification
Understanding the OFO Code structures
As can be seen above there are 8 major groupings
1 and 2 - Managers - Professionals
3 and 4 - Technical Workers - Clerical and support workers
5 and 6 - Service and Sales workers - Skilled agricultural etc
7 and 8 - Plant and Machine Operators - Elementary workers

Major group 1 will consist of one digit only - e.g. 3. Technicians and Trade Workers. They are distinguished on the basis of Skills level and specialisation
Sub major group 2 will consist of 2 digits - e.g. 32. Automotive engineering trade workers. These are sub divisions of the major group. Distinguished on the basis of broadly stated skill specialisation
Minor Groups 3 consist of 3 digits - e.g. 323 Mechanical engineering Trade workers. These are sub divisions of Sub Major Groups. Distinguished on the basis of less broadly stated skills specialisation
Unit Groups 4 consist of 4 digits - e.g. 3232 Metal fitters and machinists. Distinguished by a very fine degree of skill specialisation

Occupations consist of 6 digits - e.g. 323201 Fitter (General) Distinguished on the basis of detailed specialisation and a set of jobs which involve the performance of common tasks

Des Squire (Managing Member) of AMSI and ASSOCIATES cc
011 609 6745 or 082 800 9057
[email protected]
www.amsiandassociates.co.za

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