Unit standards in terms of national qualifications are to be formulated under the mandate of the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
The purpose for the formulation of these unit standards is to ensure that education levels are standardised within South Africa and give access to any person interested in specialising in a field. With regard to the electronic security industry, specific electronic security systems installation unit standards are in the process of being formulated.
To initiate the process, SAQA has identified experts within the electronic security industry and has invited the main stakeholders to become part of a Standards Generating Body. This body consists of organisations such as the Electronic Security Distributors Association (ESDA), the various SETAs and other major stakeholders who are proficient in training and skills development. With regard to the electronic security industry, the Standards Generating Body has invited prominent companies to offer the services of their ‘experts’ to join the Task Team, to formulate the actual unit standards.
The national qualification or unit standard will, in all likelihood, be called ‘Electronic Security Systems Installation Qualification’ and will consist of different levels. The basic skills competency level required for the qualification would be Level 3. A generic fundamental unit standard will be formulated, pitched at Level 3 and would include basic skills such as business skills, financial skills, communication skills, health and safety considerations and basic electronics, including cabling and fitment. It would be necessary for the learner to proceed to the next level, Level 4 having successfully completed Level 3. Level 4 unit standards or electives will be more specialised, for example focusing on the installation of alarms, access control, intercoms, electric fencing, gate automation and CCTV.
Once the learner has qualified in an elective, a certificate would be issued and that individual would be fully qualified to install in that field for example, either Access Automation, CCTV, Electric Fencing, Intercommunication or Access Control. The learner would be able to study any number of electives as he chooses. If another elective is chosen, the generic fundamental unit standards do not have to be repeated. Once qualified, the installer would be required to register with an overseeing body, such as SASSETA. In essence, installers will be competently trained and qualified to install electronic security systems.
The training providers of the unit standards could be any organisation or training institution such as technical colleges, universities or companies. The organisation would then be required to submit to SAQA learning material aligned to unit standards. Once SAQA has approved this, the organisation can proceed to the relevant SETA to register as a training provider of that specific unit standard. It must be borne in mind that to become a training provider, the organisation must have qualified and skilled trainers within that field.
In terms of progress, to date draft National Qualifications have been formulated and are in process of being finalised for approval by SAQA. SAQA will publish them in the Government Gazette and invite the major stakeholders to comment. After a specified period of time for comments, the Standards Generating Body will evaluate all comments and implement the necessary changes. The generic fundamental Unit Standards will then be registered. This process will be repeated for the electives.
The formulation of unit standards will have immeasurable benefit to the electronic security industry: the end-user will have protection against loss due to bad installations and the industry will benefit due to the fact that installers will have the necessary knowledge and skills to install according to the manufacturers specifications. Within South Africa, for some time there has already been a trend of enforcing qualifications of installers in different fields, for example, only qualified and registered electricians may give clearance certificates for electrical installations, likewise for any gas installation.
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