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N1 to N6 Certificate Delays on Repeat?

The problems that led to N-diploma Learners having their certificates delayed in 2016 are likely to reappear for current candidates until DHET includes all stakeholders in the discussions ranging from industry to beneficiaries.

What are N – Certificates?

Think of them as the occupational training alternative that combines grades 10 – 12 with a post school qualification. For learners who don’t enjoy a broad curriculum and have already identified a passion for the career that they which to master – it’s a pretty awesome choice.

All N Certificate and Diplomas are issued by the National Department of Education and are recognised by Commerce and Industry.

The table below shows the TVET model for N1 – N6

Course Type NATED / Report 191
Description / Definition NATED / Report 191 programmes fall under the Department of Higher Education and Training and are quality assured by Umalusi.

The programmes consist of 18 months theoretical studies at colleges and 18 months relevant practical application in work places.

Engineering studies range from N1 – N6 while Business and Utility Studies range from N4 – N6

Duration 1 Year for N1 – N3 Engineering Studies

1 Year for N4 – N6 Engineering Studies

3 Years (18 months theoretical studies + 18 months workplace application) for N4 – N6 Business and Utility Studies

Qualification N6 Diploma
Admission Requirements Grade 9 for N1 admission

Grade 12 for N4 admission

Resources Bursaries available for financially and academically qualifying students

Warning Bells

Now let’s take a look at the reasons provided by the Department of Higher Education, published 26 Jan 2017, for explaining the delay in learner certification. The following excerpt is extracted from the DHET statement titled:

DHET: Higher Education on South African FET Students Association issues


Unreleased Diplomas

It has come to the department’s attention that many students are applying for the N–Diploma without doing relevant work placement.

In order to preserve the credibility of the qualification, every N-Diploma application is evaluated. We do however accept that students are often not aware of the specific qualification requirements and may be accepting work, which will not fulfill the requirements of a qualification.

DHET has started engagements with the QCTO on this matter and will continue to do so until the matter is resolved. This could mean that colleges will need to provide greater support and play a key role in this process, or that formal workplace approvals must be done by either the Seta or QCTO.

END. ( )

What this means for Learners

  1. The college you were at was unable to build links with industry, create the demand for your skill-sets and ensure that your training was integrated with work placement.
  2. The college you were at failed to understand the implications of an occupational training delivery model and failed to suitably inform you of the required expectations you must meet.
  3. Implementation strategy between the DHET, colleges, SETAs, QCTO and industry was either confused or lacking. Although they appear genuine in trying to iron these issues out – they are still not bringing all stakeholders to the discussion. Whilst they mention SETAs and the QCTO – they should be engaging with industry structures, SARS, unions and learners as the issues are complex and complicated by a compounded lack of understanding, tax rebate and definition issues.
  4. Learners on these programmes need to know upfront what practical expectations are embedded in the certificate requirements so that they may plan accordingly. Let’s face it, as a learner you’re in charge of your learning. It’s to your advantage to independently network with businesses in your chosen sector if you want to stand out.
  5. Learners need to have clarity on who sets industry standards for employers and protects learners during an internship / work placement.

Whose fault is it when learners are ‘often not aware of the specific qualification requirements’?

‘Fault’ is as complicated as ‘solution.’

Blame can lay at policy level (uncoordinated government and industry collaboration), or it can be the fault of unworthy learning programme managers and institutions.

The blame can lay with learners who passively wait for an invitation to show initiative.

Nah, that’s only real if the policy and education delivery environments are correct.

You may have been at a great college (let me know), where you signed a statement listing all requirements or thoroughly worked through each aspect of the qualification during induction and confirmed that you understood all expectations. If this happened, definitely share the details with us!

Part 2: When Work Experience is Your Responsibility, here’s what to do



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