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SAMBRA supports professional VDQ qualification for members

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Motor body repairer estimators and Insurance companies’ vehicle assessors play a crucial role in the daily lives of South Africans. They bridge the gap in the event of an accident between the insurer and the motor body repairer to quantify damage to, or loss of, a vehicle.

There are currently more than 4 000 short-term insurance assessors and estimators in the country.  Up until now they operated without any formal occupational specific qualification and this was the reason for the initial drive to establish a formal VDQ (Vehicle Damage Quantifier) qualification which is endorsed by both the insurance and the motor body repairer (MBR) sector (Occupational Certificate: Vehicle Damage Quantifier: SAQA ID 99507).

The South African Motor Body Repairers’ Association (SAMBRA), a proud association of the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), has been integrally involved with the Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (merSETA), in the curriculum development and meeting, amongst others, the qualification assessment specification requirements of the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO), the custodian of occupational qualifications in South Africa. In developing the curriculum an international comparability study was undertaken and articulation options, both vertical and horizontal, have been provided for learners after completion of the qualification.

The VDQ is an approved occupational qualification registered on the country’s national qualifications framework (NQF level 5). Several subject matters experts have subsequently been engaged and worked tirelessly to ensure that assessment tools meet the requirements of the QCTO, including the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) assessment toolkit and External Integrated Summative Assessment (EISA).

The qualification combines a blend of technical and non-tech components.  The outcome of the VDQ curriculum is twofold. It provides professional insight into firstly what it will take to repair the vehicle’s damage, and secondly, how much will it cost to repair the damage.

Jacques Viljoen, National Director of SAMBRA, says this is an exciting qualification for current estimators and assessors to acquire as it will improve professionalism in dealing with the client.   “The qualification can be obtained by young entrants into the industry through the conventional method of attending the programme at a VDQ accredited skills development provider (SDP). The second option to obtain this qualification is by way of the VDQ RPL process. A potential candidate needs to enrol at an accredited VDQ SDP or at an accredited occupational assessment centre. Within the specified RPL process, a toolkit is applied to identify possible knowledge and practical skills gaps. These gaps are closed to ensure successful completion of the EISA whereafter certification is done by the QCTO,” says Viljoen.

SAMBRA, with the full support of the RMI, has just completed a project in conjunction with merSETA to finalise the RPL toolkit and EISA assessment process. SAMBRA made a number of experienced estimators available to showcase skills sets required to assess what it takes to repair a vehicle and what it costs.  An accredited VDQ skills development provider, Industry Training & Consulting (ITC), shared valuable knowledge and experience to facilitate the project in conjunction with the merSETA quality assurance manager. Similar commitment, involvement and support for the merSETA project was given by the Collision Repairers’ Association (CRA), several Insurance companies, and the VDQ Governing Body of South Africa (VDQGBSA).

The RPL process is a great opportunity for experienced SAMBRA estimators to obtain a qualification, get awarded a designation, and become mentors for future candidates. The RMI believe in the qualification so strongly that it will, at the end of June 2023, be opening it up, through an internal project, to 200 SAMBRA members and covering all registration and subscription fees for the initial registration. “This really has the potential to significantly professionalise the manner in which accident assessments are carried out,” says Viljoen.

SAMBRA emphasises for members’ benefit the distinction between a designation awarded by the VDQGBSA and a VDQ qualification which can only be obtained by experienced estimators after the RPL completion, or after the EISA for learners undergoing the entire programme,” says Viljoen.

Credible and reputable skills development providers (SDPs) ready for accreditation, as well as Occupational Assessment Centres (OACs) across the country, both public and private, are encouraged to contact Jacques Viljoen at Jacques.viljoen@rmi.org.za

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Jacques Viljoen, National Director of SAMBRA