What is the Occupational Qualifications Framework?


Outlined below is a summary of some of the more salient aspects of the proposed changes to the occupational qualifications framework. These proposals were put forward in July of 2008 and public comment was called for by 31st of October 2008.

It should be remembered these are proposals at this stage. The summary has been extracted from the draft policy document and nothing, to the best of my knowledge, has been finalised.

Whatever the outcome the result will have implications for internal and/or external Assessors, Moderators, Providers and course developers.

Purpose of the OQF

The purpose of the Occupational Qualifications Framework (OQF), which will be an integral part of the NQF, will specifically address the needs of the labour market.

It will provide for the certification of

  • Occupational Competence
  • Meaningful skills related to specific occupations as described in the "Organising Framework for Occupations' (OFO)
  • It will clearly identify the needs of industry and the labour market in general
  • It will clarify the relationship between workplace based learning and the GET, FET and HET bands.
  • It will clarify issues related to access to and mobility or progressions within education, training and career paths.
  • It will provide for consistency in the development and implementation of learning programmes linked to occupationally based qualifications that are regulated by the SDA.

Occupational qualifications define the learning component required for occupational competence and each unit standard identifies

  • The knowledge and theory component and standard
  • The practical skills standard
  • The work experience standard

The NQF provides for the establishment of three Quality Councils each of which is responsible for the streamlining of standards and quality assurance. The three councils will be

  • General and Further Education
  • Higher Education
  • Occupational Qualifications

The Occupational Quality Councils will be responsible for all NQF levels dependant on the level at which a specific qualification is registered by SAQA.

Levels on the NQF

It is proposed there will be 10 levels on the NQF commencing with NQF level one which is equivalent to Grade 9 and going up to level 10 which is equivalent to a Doctoral Degree.

General and Further Education Band

  1. NQF level 1 - Grade 9
  2. NQF level 2 - Grade 10 and National (vocational) Certificates level 2
  3. GFETQF and OQF

  4. NQF level 3 - Grade 11 and National (vocational) Certificates level 3
  5. NQF level 4 - National Senior Certificate and National (vocational) Cert. level 4
  6. NQF level 5 - Higher Certificates and Advanced National (vocational) Cert.
  7. NQF level 6 - Diploma and Advanced certificates
  8. NQF level 7 - Bachelors Degree and Advanced Diplomas
  9. NQF level 8 - Masters, Post grad diploma and Professional Qualifications
  10. Higher Education Qualifications Council

  11. NQF level 9 = Masters Degrees
  12. NQF level 10 = Doctoral Degrees

Occupational qualifications will be registered at a particular level of the NQF based on

· NQF level descriptors

· The skills level of the occupation as described in the "Organising Framework for Occupations' (OQF)

· International practice

Competence in occupational learning will be demonstrated against the three learning components

  • The knowledge and theory component and standard
  • The practical skills standard
  • The work experience standard

The OQF will exclude qualifications registered on other qualifications frameworks and/or which lead to professional designations and are subject to specific legislation.

The scope of occupational learning will be as follows

  • Full occupational qualification consisting of all three components
  • General qualification consisting of practical and work experience where the knowledge and theory components have been previously achieved
  • Vocational and occupational qualification based on work experience where the practical knowledge and theory components have been previously achieved

Potentially there will be two types of occupational qualifications

  • National occupational award
  • National skills certificate

National Occupational Awards will certify achievements in terms of competence related to a specific occupation e.g. Ships master - specialisation "Harbour Pilot'

National skills certificate will certify a distinct occupationally related set of skills e.g. National skills certificate Manage loan portfolios level 4.

The three learning components will account for approximately 20 credits and will require external assessment by a constituent assessor.

Fundamental learning and competence (numeracy and literacy) will be required for levels 2 to 4. Assessment requirements will be outlined in the curriculum component and may be completed prior to or may be integrated into the start of the occupational learning. The requirement of competence will have to be met before certification of the learner.

The minister will develop criteria for registration of qualifications and SAQA will register all occupational qualifications which conform to the NQF.


  • Assessment will be conducted against all three components previously mentioned
  • Related qualifications will be clustered for the purpose of qualifications and curriculum development. This will allow for the identification of common elements and will assist providers to develop more generic programmes and more flexible material.
  • The award of an occupational qualification will be subject to external summative assessment and competence.
  • The proposed system will still provide for the use of RPL and for this reason clustering of occupations will be addressed in order to minimize duplication

Design implications

  • The design and development process will be conducted by selected experts and members of a "Community of Expert Practice' (CEP) will be called on for comment.
  • Development of occupational qualifications will be prioritised in terms of skills needs and expiry dates of current qualifications
  • Existing qualifications not linked to qualifications will cease to exist after expiry date.
  • Qualifications that address areas of specialisation within occupations will be consolidated with the relevant occupational qualifications.

For more information please contact Des Squire (Director) at Applied Management Studies International (Pty) Ltd