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Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning update

Matrics Story Jan 2023

The Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI) is pleased to advise members about the Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) process based on a standardised evaluation toolkit, aimed at simplifying the evaluation process for access to a trade test for applicants not trained as apprentices, but based on work experience. This toolkit replaces the previous Section 28 process in the Manpower Training Act as well as Regulation 11(5) of the current trade test regulations as per the Skills Development Act (amended in 2008). The process was implemented and is overseen by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET): National Artisan Development / Indlela.

The Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) was implemented in 2017 and will progressively be improved to accommodate all legacy and occupational trade qualifications. The purpose is to grant trade test access through the ARPL process to candidates based on a minimum of 3 years work experience. In cases where gaps are identified during the ARPL evaluation process, candidates are referred to either Sector Education Training Authority (SETA) or QCTO accredited Skills Development Providers (SDP’s) to undergo the required training. It is important to note that gap training does not have to be completed exclusively at accredited SDP’s. Candidates registered for the ARPL process by the DHET only need to demonstrate mastery of the assessed gap(s) to have the opportunity to attempt the assessment again within the ARPL process. Candidates can return to their workplace and collaborate with their employer to address the identified gap(s). The National Artisan Development / Indlela view is that regardless of where the gap training occurs, candidates will be re-assessed, before they are allowed to attempt a trade test.

Criteria for participating in the ARPL process to access a trade test include a minimum age requirement of 19 years, a minimum of 3 years relevant workplace experience and there is no specific requirement for a formal qualification. However, all trades require proficiency in reading, writing, and mathematical calculations related to the specific trade. The candidate’s employment status can be formal or informal, and it is essential that candidates are not currently engaged in a contracted apprenticeship, meaning they are not party to a learner agreement.

Only accredited private and public Trade Test Centres have the authority to administer the ARPL toolkits. Indlela, formerly known as the Central Organisation for Trade Testing (COTT) in Olifantsfontein, Gauteng plays a prominent role in the delivery of ARPL and trade testing for a range of trade areas.  Indlela caters for a comprehensive list of motor retail, vehicle body building and component manufacturer related trades under the ARPL process, including Boilermaker, Millwright, Mechanical Fitter, Motor Mechanic, Panel beater, Spray painter, and Diesel Mechanic. Employer members can engage with the RMI Industrial Relation Specialists for guidance on the ARPL process’s impact on employee grades and wages contained in main collective agreement within the Motor Industry.  

The significance of providing required supporting documents and meeting national requirements as set out in the Criteria and Guidelines for the implementation of ARPL cannot be over-emphasised. Employers receive a comprehensive list of necessary documents to be submitted with the application, which includes a reference letter confirming the candidates’ work experience and detailed descriptions of their duties in the specific trade area. Indlela requires accurate and up-to-date information on a company letterhead with contact details.  The candidate must be able to submit an updated curriculum vitae (CV), certified copies of the identity document, and qualification certificate(s) if relevant. A payment by either the employer or the candidate of R250 is required at ARPL registration, but no cash payments are accepted at Indlela.

Candidates undergo the ARPL process and obtain an Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning (ARPL) Statement of Results (SOR) before access is granted to apply for the Trade Test.  The Trade test fees charged by INDLELA is R500 payable with the trade test application.

Interested RMI employer members can contact DHET Indlela via email ( or phone (011-206 1017, 011-206 1023, 011-206 1080, or 011 206 1119).  RMI members can also contact  Louis van Huyssteen at and Boitumelo Mphanya, the RMI’s Training Manager, on or 011-8866300.