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SAPTA provides an agency of collaboration, endorsement, development and protection of trainers and facilitators. As such, both independent contractors and those formally employed in positions that foster learning and development should join.

This article is written as a response to the SAPTA networking event held in Johannesburg. Attending the event and unpacking SAPTA’s vision was something that inspired a renewed consideration of the roles of trainers, facilitators and instructors in the education and training value chain.


Clarifying Definitions

Trainers are sometimes defined as those who are not SETA accredited and Facilitators as those who are. Instructors are often those who teach vendor specific programs such as Microsoft. Some readers will agree with these assertions, others will disagree.
Do you think these terms create tension in industry and are there implications for the ‘licensing’ of Trainers, Facilitators and Instructors?

For the purposes of this article, Trainers / Instructors and Facilitators are grouped as Trainers since they each typically  plan and assess learning outcomes and performance, either formally or informally. 

SAPTA refers specifically to Trainers, but appears to use the term inclusively i.e. including facilitators and instructors.

The ETD sector is currently enjoying a ‘learning vigour’ given impetus by legislation that rewards training interventions with BEE points and tax rebates.

The rebates and BEE points are linked to compliancy measures (usually SETA accreditation), in order to ensure that delivery mechanisms are legitimate and that they target macro economic goals such as addressing skills scarcity. These goals could be measured against industry growth rates, job creation and career mobility.

Precarious Work

Within the sociology of work, we see changing patterns of power and find that industry will shift how it views and values roles. From a neo-liberal perspective, it pays to position Trainers as independent contractors in order for business to control their own position of power – most notably that of setting the rate or fee for Training.

However this is more likely to occur in the space of NQF related training as the price for accredited training becomes inelastic when market is unwilling to pay premium rates for trainers on government subsidised and incentivised programs.

The other trainers – those who usually develop their own innovative responses to a client’s needs and structure a learning program, often for behavioural change, command much higher rates.

It will be interesting to see how SAPTA positions these groups of professionals and unites them.

Trainer Relevance To the Unemployed Training Market

With high unemployment rates and macroeconomic goals citing education and training priorities, it is essential to ensure that Trainer skills include the ability to teach internet and social media skills in order for graduates to be able to research and monitor trends in the industries or sectors of their choice.

Most funded training specifically targets the unemployed (categorised as’18.2′) for NQF based qualifications. Training providers offering these qualifications typically prefer industry specialists who facilitate and are accredited assessors.

It seems like a good idea to be able to define and establish significant features.of a Trainer’s career path so that we can ensure the applicable skill sets. An association such as SAPTA can foster the environment for trainers to progressively and collectively assert their professionalism.

To Collect or Not?

Did you know there’s no collective noun for Trainers, instructors and facilitators?!

Whether you specialise in NQF (National Qualification Framework) based learning or behavioural learning interventions, your practice or andragogy should still conform to positive principles and values.

If Trainers remain unorganised and segregated by fields or areas of specialisation or intent – they will find that increasingly – they will lose their own power in industry. this loss of power will manifest in reduced rates for Trainers as companies force them into greater competition against each other and non-payment or reduced payment of contracts.

If you’re a trainer experiencing unhonoured contracts or unprincipled management – where do you go as an independent worker?

If the contractual relationship becomes litigious – who gives you professional advice and mentorship?

Tipping the Balance of Power 

When a group of workers engage in collective action and bargaining – they wield both political and economic power. An association or group can lobby for legislative changes and stimulate a business environment with reduced barriers to success.

Specialist fields establish themselves through organisation. If trainers wish to be defined as professionals, it is important that they abide by a regulated code of conduct and conform to legislative requirements which may or may not yet be in place.

A more effectively organised group can start to define the ‘sector’ – who is in it and who isn’t. They can start to evaluate their own value chain factors – such as who contracts them? What norms and standards should these ’employers’ meet in order to acquire the service?

This understanding will improve Trainers own market positioning and allow their stakeholders to believe in the credibility of the Training service.


If you want to associate with colleagues who are enthusiastic, professional and passionate about their role in industry – then you’ll find great synergy here.

It’s clear that they are still shaping processes and that committees are forming in order to address key issues. Although networking is a key objective for them, I’m glad to see that’s not their sole purpose for existing.

These are SAPTA’s Mission and Objectives:

We ensure professional training and support professional trainers throughout Southern Africa by…

  1. Creating a community of professional trainers;
  2. Regulating and quality assuring the standards for professional trainer certification;
  3. Pressurising the institutions and agents who make use of professional trainers to only contract SAPTA Certified Professional Trainers; and
  4. Supporting and developing professional trainers to ensure the highest possible performance when executing their task.

sapta governance structure

Assembling Leaders, Thought Shapers and Pioneers

SAPTA will need all levels of expertise in order to establish an industry relevant association focused on strengthening and demystifying what and who trainers are and what norms and standards they adhere to.

I believe SAPTA will need to embark on a very liberal engagement strategy in order to include as many participants as possible who add value to the training environment. For example HR Directors and Training Managers. Perhaps they could participate in focus groups that would unpack specific areas / problems.

Without a doubt, opportunities exist in SAPTA’s strategic development for Trainers to exert influence and assist with unpacking and aligning market perceptions.

Not sure if it’s for you?

If you’re a trainer, please check your pulse! There’s a value for you – for sure!

OK, I get that not everyone wants to be a driver – that’s fine. Become a member anyway and attend the networking sessions which are interesting and informative.

By joining, you add to their headcount and can endorse what their development goals are.

If you have no legitimate organisation to represent your livelihood and argue for an environment that allows your talent to earn you money – you either need a great lawyer or a career change coach!

sapta 'keep climbing'SAPTA Membership

SAPTA has two membership types, namely associate membership and CPT (Certified Professional Trainer) membership. Before applying for CPT status, the applicant must be registered as an associate SAPTA member.

There are no prerequisites for associate membership, any person can join, provided that the annual membership fee is paid. CPT registration is however quite a rigorous process and applicants who apply will have to prove competence against the SAPTA PTBoC.

Although CPT registration is the highest form of SAPTA membership, many people choose to stay associate members. These members often have an interest in the training industry, but do not necessarily practice as full-time professional trainers. Such members would be HR managers, Training Company managers, etc.

 Check out the SAPTA site here and contact them directly!

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derek hendrikz Oct 7, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Thank you for a great article Leonie – I will gladly share this far and wide… 🙂

sboniso makhoba Jan 24, 2018 at 1:16 pm

I am so glad that finally I found your organisation , which values speakers as it mentioned in your vision.

I am in my mid 30s been involve in network marking business as a consultant and also their professional trainer/presenter for more than 8yrs for international company called TIENS GROUP. which specialises in different range of products cosmetics ,nutritional supplements, health gadgets
. I have attended lots of trainings provided by our company tiens because they have their own university ,lectures from their university usually comes and trains us . my question is very simple if I want to be a facilitator what would you need from me , your respond via my email will be highly appreciated.

yours faithfully SBONISO MAKHOBA

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