Navigating QCTO: The Transition & Impact on Skills Development

The world of education and skills development in South Africa is transforming. The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) spearheads this change. It is steering the nation towards a future where occupational qualifications are meticulously aligned with the industry’s evolving demands. Drawing inspiration from our exploration of training management and skills development at Inala, this blog post will examine QCTO’s role in transitioning from legacy qualifications and SETAs to the QCTO system to the broader implications for stakeholders.

The Role of QCTO in Ensuring Quality and Relevance

The QCTO’s approach to managing the Occupational Qualification Sub-Framework (OQSF) ensures that qualifications are both relevant and of high quality. By setting standards and developing national occupational qualifications, the QCTO aligns learning experiences with workplace needs, enhancing employment opportunities and driving strategic growth through data-driven insights.

This process involves extensive collaboration with industry experts, educators, and employers to ensure the qualifications produced are rigorous and directly applicable to the real world. Above all, it meets the demands of the South African economy.

QCTO, Skills Development

The Shift from Legacy to Occupational Qualifications

The transition from legacy to occupational qualifications marks a significant milestone in the evolving landscape of corporate South Africa. This shift, effective as of June 30, 2023, sees the phasing out of outdated qualifications in favour of those designed to meet current and future industry needs. Transitional arrangements provide a grace period for learners, underscoring the importance of adaptability and strategic planning in these changes.

This administrative transition represents a paradigm shift in our conception of education and training. We are moving towards a more dynamic, competency-based system that values practical skills and real-world applications.

Embracing the Transition: From SETAs to QCTO

In line with our focus on the distinction between training management systems, the transition from SETAs to the QCTO system represents a pivotal shift in skills development. After June 30, 2024, the landscape will exclusively feature occupationally directed qualifications through the QCTO. This emphasises the need for awareness and engagement among employers and stakeholders. This mirrors our call for leveraging insights to drive informed decisions and strategic growth.

The transition to the QCTO system is not just a regulatory change but a strategic move towards enhancing the quality and relevance of vocational education and training in South Africa. It aims to streamline the accreditation process and improve the quality of training providers. Therefore, it ensures that the qualifications offered align closely with the economy’s needs.

The Importance of Industry and Labor Engagement 

The transition to the new Occupational Learning System (OLS) emphasises the importance of active participation from industry and labour. This engagement is crucial for addressing national employment challenges and ensuring the transition benefits all parties involved. What’s more, the success of the QCTO transition hinges on the active involvement of all stakeholders, including businesses, training providers, government, and learners.

Moreover, by fostering a collaborative ecosystem and investing in skills development, we can ensure that the qualifications developed under the QCTO framework are of high quality. And directly responsive to the evolving needs of the South African economy.


In conclusion, under the QCTO’s guidance, a significant shift towards occupational qualifications is happening by focusing on relevant workplace qualifications. The QCTO aims to bridge the gap between education and employment, contributing to job creation and economic growth. As we navigate this transformative landscape, all stakeholders must embrace the changes, stay informed, and actively participate in the transition process. Together, we can ensure that South Africa’s workforce is well-equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Finally, this journey towards a more responsive and dynamic skills development system is not without its challenges. However, with collective effort and commitment, we can achieve a future where all South Africans have the opportunity to thrive in a rapidly changing global economy.

A connected ecosystem that offers abundant opportunities for learners to reach their maximum potential.

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