Hortgro is fast-tracking the process to get a new national qualification for horticultural supervisors and junior managers off the ground. Kyra-Kay Rensburg investigates.
The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) qualification for Horticultural Foremen, an NQF4 vocational qualification, was originally written by a group of farmers and a consultant ten years ago.
Driving the initiative is Joy van Biljon, formerly from Koue Bokkeveld Training Centre, who has spent a lot of time trying to get the QCTO qualification initiated.
This new qualification will replace the current supervisor learnership qualification that will expire in 2025 in the agricultural and related sectors. The qualification was initially set to expire in 2021 but this deadline was postponed for a proper replacement programme to be put in place.
The structure of the qualification
The new QCTO qualification is structured differently and divided into three sections: knowledge, practical and workplace exposure with a greater practical focus.
The workplace practical is a compulsory part of the qualification to a far greater extent than in the past. One of the advantages of this approach is that it allows training providers and workplaces to work together to teach the students in multiple dimensions.
In the Horticultural Foreman learnership, theory counts 52 credits and will be taught at a training institution. The practical component – 35 credits – will also be managed by the training institution but includes simulation, self-research, case-studies, workplace visits, observation and more, explains Van Biljon.
The workplace mentor and training institution are partners in this process and need to work together to produce the best outcome for the student.
“Here the specific industry plays an important role and normally some industry body takes responsibility for the final practical assessment.”
“The principle is that an industry body such as Hortgro will in future identify and recognise several industry experts—say e.g., horticultural consultants with good experience—and they will expose students to the orchard and require that they demonstrate some of their skills and share their practical knowledge. This is similar to what tests mechanics do,” Van Biljon clarifies.
Students will only receive their certificate once they have successfully completed all the sections; pass all the tests and assessments in the theory sections, have a portfolio of evidence proving their practical knowledge and have a workplace logbook that entitles them to a final industry assessment.
Working with industry
Hortgro funded and hosted two workshops in February and June for both private and public training providers to inform them of the new qualification and what would be expected from them going forward.
The first workshop was a focused discussion with AgriSETA and FruitSA representatives. The second workshop was presented by Christo Basson, who is experienced in structuring similar qualifications.
The hope is that a pilot project will soon be launched, and that the qualification will be available to everyone in the horticultural industry. Many of the training providers are trying to offer this as blended learning, which will allow students to do less work in contact sessions, than has been the case until now. This will enable students who live far from training centres to participate more easily.
Caption: Astrid Arendse and Christo Basson, who presented the second workshop.