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SETA complains and appeals for Training Providers

Through my experience working with the SETA’s since 2001 have I heard many complaints from Training Providers and a lack of resources to challenge or appeal their outcomes. It is however very important to understand the purposes of all the processes and bodies to determine the direction of the complaint. Below some of my personal experience and resources on this topic. Feel free to contribute on our public forum if you have any comments or additional resources in this regard.

An Employment Index survey conducted by the JSE-listed Adcorp human capital management group  found that “there are as many as 829 800 unfilled positions for high-skilled workers across a wide range of occupations in South Africa.”

To prevent this, government had signed in the Skills Development Act in 1998 (amended in 2013) to “provide an institutional framework” that would devise and implement “national, sector and workplace strategies to develop and improve the skills of the South African workforce.”

The success of the Act at addressing the skills’ shortage would hinge on the competency of the SETAs created to address the concerns of accredited training providers.


SETAs were established by an Act of Parliament to develop and administer sector skills’ plans to prioritize skills and their appropriate learnerships and apprenticeships. They play a crucial role in the implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). They ensure quality assurance by monitoring training provision; they also register assessors, collaborate with other education and training quality (ETQ) assurers and report to the South African Qualifications Authority on how they have fulfilled the ETQ role and disbursed levies. SETAs report to the Minister of Higher Education and Training and to the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

While it’s impossible to exaggerate the importance of an empowered, high-quality training provider, it’s nearly as difficult to describe the trouble many have experienced trying to resolve problems that arise in their day-to-day relationship with their relevant SETAs. Some end up posting their complaints on Hellopeter! A Training Provider’s ability to meet operational needs and continue providing skills’ training is dependent on its SETA giving feedback, scheduling and performing external moderation visits, payments and providing resources in a reasonable and agreed-upon time frame. Training providers cannot afford for SETAs to experience administrative backlogs. When they do or when something else goes wrong, the Training Provider must know which entities exist around the SETAs, what each body does and the steps needed to address problems that may arise with the SETAs.


The South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) exists to “create an integrated national framework for learning achievements; facilitate access to, and mobility and progression within education, training and career paths; enhance the quality of education and training; accelerate the redress of past unfair discrimination in education, training and employment opportunities; and thereby contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large.”


The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) was created to “oversee the design, implementation, assessment and certification of occupational qualifications on the Occupational Qualifications Sub-Framework” and also to “offer guidance to service providers who must be accredited by the QCTO to offer occupational qualifications.” And of course, there’s the Department of Higher Education and Training that governs the SETAs.


In view of the ongoing impact of skills’ shortage on our economy, someone may wonder why there has been this multiplication of overseeing bodies but not a matching multiplication of results. One may also wonder whether there hasn’t been an overlap of roles and a duplication of efforts or, indeed, what QCTO and SAQA do that the DHET can’t and vice-versa.

In the wake of President Jacob Zuma’s ascension to the Office, there has not only been a division of the Education Department but also the creation of the SETAs and associated bodies. But far from making life easier, we hear of instances where Training Providers feel the need to lobby their complaints together and get heard as pressure groups.

It’s important for a Training Provider with a complaint to first determine the type of issue s/he is facing with the SETA. Operational queries related to a SETA should go to DHET. If the SETA has broken a policy, either their own or SAQAs (note how one trainer is responsible for interpreting, simplifying and harmonizing two bodies’ set of guidelines) or if the query is an appeal against an outcome or person, then it’s appropriate to contact the QCTO.

The Training Provider has to gather his or her evidence be it in the form of emails, documents and other pertinent communications. He must also get a copy of the SETA’s policy related to the issue, as well as a copy of the SAQA policies where they mention anything related to the issue. These can be found in their website’s documents’ tab.

Once these have been gathered, the Training Provider can send an email to with the below. The QCTO will not attend to the case if any of this information is missing or if it not in this format:

  1. Background
  2. Statement of the problem
  3. Source of the issue(s)
  • What happened, when and where
  • Who are the individuals involved?
  • Appeal issue
  • Attempt at resolution of the issues since the appeal
  • Timelines
  1. The Training Provider must also document the impact of this impasse on his ability to deliver services.
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