Why does my certificate take so long?

ETDP Seta set new requirements for Learner Registrations

Previously registering a learner’s successful result with the ETDP Seta was easy. The assessor would examine and assess a submitted portfolio. If all was in order, it was a straightforward matter of completing the required documentation and registering the learner directly on ETDP’s Datanet website. A few days later the official seta Statements of Results would come. This happy process was dependant on an “Open Window”.

Registration Window

For service providers, their open “window” is very important. When their window is open, service providers can register learners who have met requirements online. Once the official Statements of Results were sent, Certificates would be issued. This was a convenient and satisfying system.
Generally, windows were open for up to six months at a time following a successful site visit (audit) by an appointed Seta verifier.

Desktop Verification: The first change.

Instead of a six month open window period, service providers found their windows closed just 30 days after their last ETDP verification visit. A handy “Desktop Verification” system enabled service providers to have their windows opened again without a seta site visit. A desktop verification required the service provider to submit a number of scanned documents, including assessment reports, moderator reports, class lists, etc. The system worked well for service providers, even though it required a lot of paperwork every 30 days.

External Moderation: The next change

Late in 2015, registering successful learners entered a new phase. Service providers now need to:

  • Assess all learners as previously done.
  • Moderate a minimum of three portfolios for any given unit standard the service provider offers
  • Moderate a minimum of 25 % of portfolios. ( Previously, 10 % was sufficient)
  • Ask the Seta to send an external moderator to physically examine all portfolios
  • Register only those portfolios which the external moderator approves and opens the window for

Portfolios arriving after such an external moderation visit, follow the same process until a following external moderation visit takes place again a month or two later.

What are the positives?

  • Learners are better able to secure work as the marketplace values and trusts their certificates for their legitimacy
  • The Seta can confirm that certificates issued go only to learners who have met stringent requirements
  • Service providers who issue certificates without delay are respected and secure ongoing business

What are the negatives?

  • Learners wait longer for certificates
  • Service providers have stacks of portfolios standing around waiting to be presented for external moderation
  • Service providers deal with frustrated learners who need their certificates urgently ( e.g. for job applications/compliance)
  • Service providers need to conduct many more moderations which adds to costs
  • Service providers are disempowered to register learners without the Seta first examining each portfolio
  • Courses fees have had to become more expensive to cover the additional costs

Fortunately, the certificates remain current and consistently open doors for learners seeking to work in the areas of their interest and passion.

Can An Activist Be A Facilitator?

In June this year, I took on the interesting assignment of working with seven environmentalists who chose to invest a training allowance they received on facilitation skills.

It took us the best part of the first morning to clarify roles.

It was clear that the group consisted of people who were zealously passionate about anything environmental, holding strong views on recycling, pollution, community gardening, alien plant removal, exploitation of resources, and, in some of their views, big business’s ability to buy their way into doing anything they wanted, anywhere, regardless.

While examining facilitator terms and meanings they had researched prior to the workshop, we stopped at this point: “Facilitators are neutral. When working with groups, they do not take a particular point of view but aim at opening communication.”
“That’s not us! “They said. “Our job is to either mobilise people towards something, like a community gardening project, or recycling waste, or against something like pollution of a water course or the development of an ecologically sensitive area.”

“So, are you more like advocates? I asked.”
“Exactly! That’s our passion and that’s our role,” they agreed.
I could feel a sense or outrage from some in the group. The neutrality required by a facilitator felt like a sell out.
“When they want to build a monstrosity in the estuary, am I supposed to take on a neutral role?” One asked one incredulously.
Sensing that they were experiencing strong emotions, including a sense of loss about their purpose as advocates we hung back for a while to let this information percolate a bit more.
Advocacy fights, defends, informs, educates and helps on behalf of those perceived as vulnerable or voiceless. In most cases, the advocate finds a lot of obstacles and resistance.

The facilitator has the primary objective to remain neutral. This can be challenging especially when personally held beliefs and values do not line up with those you are interacting with. Remaining unflinchingly neutral however will enable the facilitator to be a mediator who is can be perceived as trustworthy and reliable to either side.
At the close of the three day course, many said that the course had been a life changer for them. People were seeing how more reasonably and credibly they could facilitate unbiased interaction between apparently opposed groups and look forward to healthy dialogue and expression of robust opinions without having to blow the whistle too soon or to run for cover.

On the plane home, I reflected on the courageous shift people had made from being raving, banner carrying advocates contesting anything that was environmentally disagreeable to them, to calm, neutral and trustworthy facilitators able to bring opposing parties together.

Brian Jensen

Brian is an experienced facilitator who trains facilitators and trainers throughout South Africa and beyond.
Contact him at: brian@execoach.co.za