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How To RPL: Recognition of Prior Learning

Why RPL? Have you worked in the same job for more than 2 years and don’t have a qualification? You could be eligible for Recognition of Prior Learning, awesome! It’s faster and cheaper if you can earn a qualification based on what you already know.

RPL is Fast and Cost Effective

rpl motivation letter

Do you keep missing out on promotions because others are more qualified than you?

Not many adults can afford to take a year or more off work to attend lectures. Besides, who wants to be a full-time student alongside people 5, 10, 20 or more years younger than them?

For those who are employed, this article describes Learnerships and the RPL Process as options for Graduating in the Workplace.

Do you want to qualify? Consider RPL

Everybody should seize the opportunity to grow. Working in people development, you encounter many whose greatest barrier to success is their lack of confidence. Getting qualified isn’t such a big deal and people who work in this field understand how to solve your issues.

Graduating in the Workplace: Learnerships

Registering for a learnership means you can train with your colleagues at work and employers can get BEE points and tax rebates by supporting you through the program.

Unfortunately, many companies implement learnerships purely for rebates and points. Often they don’t care if you succeed or not, as they will receive the incentives regardless of your success. As a result, you may find yourself in a situation where you are pressured to complete your usual workload and carry the responsibility of your training.

how long does rpl take?

Occupational Qualifications

Learnerships are occupational qualification programs preparing you for a workplace role. In other words, to work in a specific (e.g. Banking) or a range of industries (e.g. Business Administration).

If your employer agrees to it, they will sign a learning contract with you and a training provider in order to conform to SETA (sectoral education training authority) requirements.

Learners are required to attend compulsory training sessions and will manage and maintain a detailed workplace experience portfolio of evidence (POE).  A POE is a collection of work completed outside of the training at your workplace and in your own time.

It’s important to emphasize that these qualifications are NOT viewed as being at a level lower than a university or college education – in other words, do not assume that they are easier. Occupational qualifications are possibly more effective options for working adults than traditional qualifications as implementation can be adapted to suit busy schedules. These qualifications are designed to complement actual work experience so that you can achieve a recognised qualification whilst remaining in full-time employment.

The next brilliant option for Graduating in the Workplace

But you have no time for training and already have work experience to match to a qualification. RPL is the best way for you to qualify cheaply and quickly.

assessment and rpl formative and summative poe

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)

Perhaps you have more than 5 years of work experience. Maybe you’ve given up hope of ever becoming qualified!

The RPL process recognises career maturity and job experience. With 5 years below your belt, you will sail through the correctly selected occupational qualification.

What is Recognition of Prior Learning?

RPL is for those who already possess the required skills and knowledge and simply need to be assessed and verified for competence.

Many people in SA couldn’t follow traditional study paths such as university and college, For some, politics disrupted their opportunities, for others it was a lack of financial resources, many just didn’t know how to pursue tertiary education and some didn’t believe they were good enough. Doubtless, there are many more reasons, and this is why we need to have multiple, flexible solutions to getting South Africa qualified.

RPL is the channel you can use in order to negotiate a qualification based on your work experience and learning opportunities. Imagine you are a warehouse supervisor with 15 years of experience. You started as a cleaner and had to work your way up. Younger and less experienced colleagues were promoted above you,  you even trained them! You’ve been told that because you only have a Grade 10 or standard 8 education and don’t have matric Maths, you cannot be promoted to warehouse manager. If you want the promotion and want an effective route to a qualification – RPL is for you.

It may seem like a short cut but not it’s not an easy route if you are poorly organised. You will be required to put together a Portfolio of Evidence proving you meet the requirements of a qualification with minimal training support. RPL is a formal assessment process that is recognised internationally in order to encourage adults to improve career mobility and acquire relevant qualifications for an ever-changing world.

How to Select a Qualification

  • Go to SAQA.ORG.ZA and hit ‘Search for a qualification’
  • Type in the title of the qualification you think you’re looking for
  • Open it and scroll to the Exit Level Outcomes (ELO)
  • ELO’s are what students must be able to do independently by the time the training is complete.
  • How much of these ELO’s do you meet? 60% or more? Then it could be the right qualification for you to pursue.
  • If you don’t understand the ELO’S – wrong qualification, search again! Keep going till you find the ELO’s that best match your skillset.

What happens if you don’t find a qualification that fits your experience?

You may benefit hugely from attending training and could find that a program matching some of your current skills sets an easy program to fall into even though you have not studied for many years.

Adults tend to find learning a far more stimulating and rewarding experience than when they were at school as most adult training is based on active participation techniques.

You don’t only learn about specific topics but you also develop improved communication and presentation skills. You’ll be amazed at the confidence and positive action that occupational training can inspire.

The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Process 

This refers to the process of identifying, assessing and recognising previous learning wherever acquired, whether formal, informal or non-formal. This means that you collect authorised copies of all certificates obtained through formal learning opportunities and arrange additional evidence demonstrating your skills, activities and experience.

Creating the RPL Portfolio of Evidence (POE)

Typically, you are allowed between 3 – 6 months to compile the evidence required to meet the qualification expectations. Evidence can be created or it can be evidence that you already have in your possession that can be linked to the qualification to show that you are competent.

If you don’t have such naturally occurring evidence available, you may, through the completion of projects and assignments, still be able to create sufficient evidence to show your competency. If it’s clear that you don’t possess the skills and knowledge required to compile all the evidence, you will be required to attend training to close those gaps.

Examples of Reflective POE Evidence

RPL Assessment

Once your Portfolio of Evidence has been submitted it will be assessed. You may be found to be competent or not yet competent. You will receive an assessment feedback report detailing precisely where the problem areas are.
If you are found Not Yet Competent, most providers will give you a further chance to submit additional evidence at no extra cost while others may charge a fee for remediation. Find out at the beginning what the assessment and remediation policy and procedure is.

Once you have submitted all your evidence and it has been assessed, the accredited RPL provider will arrange for the findings to be internally moderated by an accredited moderator to check that assessment procedures were properly followed. After this, those findings will be externally moderated by the SETA.

The RPL process is designed to not only allow those with the knowledge and practical experience to be recognised but also to accommodate busy, working adults. 

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Leonie Hall

Leonie Hall, disruptive thinker and dynamic strategist, is an expert in education, development, quality management and innovation. She has spoken at local and international conferences; and currently works as an independent consultant and content developer. Contact Leonie for a consultation.

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  1. Shanita Moonia

    please assist as I want to become accredited for assessor and I have 20 years experience. how can I start submitting fro RPL and what are the costs.
    thank you
    Kind Regards

  2. Maidi kelebogile

    Where can i drop off myparticulars cause I am interested in these learnerships?

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