South Africa has the largest private security industry in the world with over 9000 registered companies. According to the Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA), it is further estimated that between 15 000 and 20 000 new members join the private security industry each month. As a result, government has called for the regulation of the industry, including the standardisation and conversion of training and qualifications to the quality council’s requirements.
In the past few years, the education and training sector has seen the reallocation of responsibilities between SAQA (South Africa Qualifications Authority), the SETAs (Service Sector Education and Training Authorities) and a new body called the Quality Assurance Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO).
The QCTO was formed in February 2010 and falls under the Department of Higher Education and Training. Amongst others, the security industry’s topsy-turvy growth has so alarmed government that it has mandated the QCTO to simplify and standardise training and qualification requirements. To this end, the QCTO has called for the electronic security and electrical sectors (including contractors, manufacturers and trainers) to form one professional organisation representing both industries.
The purpose of creating one professional body
Besides being a government mandate, the new professional body is proposed to:
• Simplify and standardise the myriad of current professional organisations in these two industries.
• Act as the future 'Assessment Quality Partner' (AQP) for the electrical and electronic security sectors together with SETA.
• Encompass the conversion of all the current unit standards to that of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) requirements.
It is vital that with regard to the quality of equipment as well as installations, standards need to be monitored, upheld and improved upon where and whenever possible. It is likely that everyone will benefit from standardised training and competency requirements within the electronic security installation occupations. The intention is to include all related electronic security installation occupations (electric fences, alarms, gate motors, access control and CCTV) and replace the following qualification: 58697, NQF Level 4, FETC Electronic Security Installation Practices.
Critical issues to consider
• Firstly, the question needs to be asked whether the request by the QCTO to combine the electrical and electronic security industries in one professional body is practical.
• Secondly, despite the fact that the first widely attended information meeting in this respect to the electronic security industry only took place on 26 January 2015, a professional body is already being registered in terms of the NQF Act No 67 of 2008.
• This process is being driven by an interim committee that was formed at a meeting that took place last year.
• The interim committee consists of individuals from the Electric Fencing and Components Manufacturers Association (EFCMA), SAEIFA, Growth College and Nemtek, without sufficient input or participation by professional bodies, organisations and individuals from the security sector. In fact, SAIDSA have submitted an objection in writing to the Department of Labour in this regard.
• It is unclear which representatives on the interim committee are experts on the current training and competency requirements for registered unit standards and courses within the electronic security installation occupations. Despite a lack of experienced and skilled electronic security professionals included on the committee, a board of directors has already been nominated.
• The mentioned interim committee has also drafted a constitution – including passing a motion in September 2014 to register the professional body as a Section 21 company and continue with the formal application to SAQA as a professional body.
• The registered professional body has been named the Council for Electrical Professionals (CEP) – effectively marginalising the security profession not only in the naming of the body, but also in the lack of representatives who have experience in and understand the electronic security sector.
• The new professional body is being registered under the auspices of it being a voluntary body for individuals only.
• No provision has been made for trading entities operated by distributors and/or manufacturers to join. However, associations such as SAIDSA, ESDA, EFCMA, etc. can apply to join as associated members, once the body is ready to accept such applications.
The way forward
The question remains whether an independent, non-government, professional body is required to take on the role of policing, vetting and endorsing the electronic security industry. And, moreover, whether it is appropriate to group two diverse industries together under one umbrella.
However, in responding to the QCTO’s mandate, it is crucial for both industries to follow a transparent and inclusive process:
• A memorandum should be distributed to all stakeholders, making clear exactly what it is that SAQA requires, and explaining the need to establish a working committee with all-round experience within the industries.
• Nominees from both industries should be called for to form a committee.
• CVs need to be submitted and openly discussed, to ensure that the right people with the right credentials are elected to form a working committee.
• The elected working committee then needs to nominate a chairperson.
In any situation, change is great and well accepted, if for the right reason, and everyone involved is allowed to participate in the changes being made.
As none of the above processes have been followed in establishing the currently proposed Council for Electrical Professionals (CEP), the need to think through what the new requirements propose and how the security sector responds to those requirements cannot be overemphasised.
For more information contact Shirley at ESDA on firstname.lastname@example.org
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