Professionalisation through professional bodies
To be classified as a “professional”, one needs to have moved through a number of stages of education and experience to qualify for acceptance by a professional body. MICHAEL BRANDT climbs the steps to explore what’s required
Leading the way in the discussion was Jody Cedras when he addressed the annual national conference of Saiosh in Midrand in May. He is currently director of registration and recognition at the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
Cedras explained that on the path of professionalism one has to climb a number of specific steps. It begins at the preparatory stage that includes schooling Grades 0 to 9, moving on to Grades 10 to 12 and National Certificate Vocational (NCV).
This is followed by Stage 1 (educational qualification): professional or managerial degree; para-professional diploma; or trade certificate.
Next is Stage 2, which is more practical and consists of structured workplace training at each level of qualification.
Stage 3 involves the award by a professional body of a designation in a work environment, or a trade test qualification in a trade environment.
Stage 4 requires the retention of that designation – continued professional development (CPD) and code of ethics, or meeting compliance conditions in a trade environment.
After general and further education and training, designations apply to higher education and trades and occupations.
What is a professional body?
An application must be submitted to SAQA for recognition as a professional body and to have professional designations registered on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF).
A professional body cannot be accredited or registered as an education and training provider. It can, however, register its employees on learnerships and act as a workplace provider for the delivery of learnerships; recognise suitable education and training providers; be involved in the curriculation of learning programmes; and set and administer its own Board examinations.
A professional body works with Quality Councils (QCs) in setting quality assurance and standards for formal qualifications registered on the NQF.
A professional body has the option to pursue international affiliation, but must still meet local requirements.
What is professionalism?
Does professionalism end with educational qualifications, recognition and a designation? “Not at all,” said Cedras. “Knowledge in isolation is not enough. There must be an underlying professional attitude to apply that knowledge. There must be proof of an ability to apply and perform the applicable activities, to the recognised standards, using that appropriate knowledge.”
According to Cedras, the elements of “fit for purpose” and “fit to practise” must be used as a measure of the incumbent’s professionalism.
The measure must be that the incumbent is “competently professional”, said Cedras.
CPD programmes are essential in creating the insight into motivating the move up to the level of “competent professionalism”.
“From the basic knowledge and understanding stage, one moves to the competent application of that knowledge, and the realisation that reasoned advice rounds out the process,” said Cedras. “These are core competencies that require certain primary skills, but there are optional competencies that the incumbent can choose according to individual needs and desires,” he added.