WE NEED ANSWERS

WE NEED ANSWERS

By Lea Jacobs

Agents and principals who, despite having completed the necessary material have not yet received the required certification in order to stay in business next year are becoming frantic. The cut-off date is looming for those who need answers and solutions. The problem, by most accounts, is that no one in authority is stepping up and communicating with those who need the answers most

It was recently acknowledged by the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) at the Durban leg of the organisation’s road show that it is aware of a number of agents who, despite completing the necessary qualification, are still waiting to receive certification from the Services Sector Education Authority (SSETA) in order to receive a Fidelity Fund certificate next year. Despite this acknowledgement, it still remains unclear exactly how the EAAB and SSETA plans to resolve the issue and whether a solution will be found in time for the 2013 deadline. This is not a trivial issue. Many agents have been struggling for over two years to get clarification as to if and when they are going to receive the necessary documentation in order to practice as an agent or principal after the cut-off date.

Unfortunately, despite repeated requests from The Property Professional Magazine and promises of a response from SSETA and the Department of Human Settlements that governs the EAAB, none has been forthcoming. It is patently evident that the situation is becoming critical and something has to be done in order to allay the fears of those who, through no fault of their own, have been left in limbo.

It appears that the problem is at least two-fold. On the one hand there are agents who have jumped the gun and who have completed the wrong qualification. Gerhard van Rensburg, an independent real estate trainer, coach and motivational speaker with Bowtie Solutions says that he is aware of people who completed the Real Estate NQF 4 Qualification through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) even before a Fidelity Fund certificate had been issued by the EAAB. This, he says, is contradictory to what the EAAB prescribes.

He believes that it is essential that both agents and principals need to educate themselves as to what qualification is required unless they are willing to pay very expensive, duplicate tuition fees.  “It is not just about knowing which qualification should be obtained, but also the process that needs to be followed as prescribed by the EAAB,” he says.

The second scenario has become a real headache for both principals and agents alike. It seems that many learners have approached an accredited training provider, paid the fees in order to receive the necessary training and course material, only to have their hopes dashed because SSETA withdrew the required accreditation of that institution at a later stage.

Sadly, there appears to be instances where agents have paid twice for the same course through different training providers and are still without the necessary certificates because both training institutions have ended up losing the required accreditation. Another concern for those caught up in this mess is that many learners completed the required course material long before the training provider lost its accreditation, but despite this are still waiting for SSETA to issue the required certificates.

Roleen Beelders, from Tendcon Developers, says that she has been appointed by several principals and agents to speak with SSETA and the EAAB on their behalf. “This group of 25 learners consists mostly of principals, who are all based in Cape Town and who were all registered with the Real Estate Business School (REBS).”

That training institution lost its accreditation at the beginning of 2012. It’s not the only educational institution to lose accreditation, as Ditasa suffered the same fate later that year.

While it is uncertain as to how many learners have been affected by the REBS decision, Ditasa estimated that the decision to remove their accreditation would put some 2 563 of its learners in jeopardy.

In a series of emails copied to The Property Professional Magazine, the frustration of these individuals is tangible. “I have asked SSETA why it has taking 17 months to solve a problem that they have with a provider they themselves accredited,” says Beelders.

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It is fair to assume that the responsibility for ensuring that a training organisation remains accredited does not rest on the learners’ shoulders. Although the list has since been removed from the EAAB’s webpage, it did at one stage list training providers who had been given the green light to educate South African estate agents. It is hardly the learners’ fault that some of these trainers have since had their accreditation removed and perhaps more importantly, that no one in authority is doing much to resolve the issue. Another concern that has been voiced by agents is that they still haven’t received certificates even though they completed the course long before the particular training provider lost its accreditation. In other words, the necessary courses were completed while the trainer was still fully accredited by SSETA.

Beelders says that the group gets mixed signals from SSETA and that different members of staff at SSETA send out conflicting information.

Again, The Property Professional Magazine is in possession of emails sent out by SSETA that provide different reasons as to why learners have not received their certificates, including citing a paper shortage as well as stating that the person responsible for signing the required documentation is unavailable.

Regardless of the reasons, it has become clear that something urgently needs to be done to address the issue. We are not only talking about a few affected agents here, we are talking about principals of agencies, who employ numerous others.

“This is an uncontrolled environment that affects a lot of breadwinners in the industry. We have a constitutional right to earn an honest living, especially if it affects the owners of companies who employ staff,” says Beelders.

“Some of us have been in this trade for longer than SSETA has existed. All of the affected learners did exactly what was expected of them; namely register with an accredited training provider and submit the necessary work in order to be found competent by an accredited SSETA assessor. SSETA is fully aware of the fact that we need to pay for our Fidelity Fund certificates by October 2013 in order to be in a position to trade in 2014. SSETA should certify the learners who have been found competent as we have staff and companies to run.”

Although there have been whisperings about delaying the deadline for compliance, so far the EAAB is sticking to its guns. As things stand, agents and principals who have been in possession of a valid Fidelity Fund certificate since 2008 have to complete the relevant courses and obtain certification from SSETA before the cut-off date this year.

It is apparent that someone somewhere has to take control of this situation and come to a firm decision regarding the way forward. Wouldn’t it be tragic if the steps taken to improve the industry ended up leading to the downfall of numerous highly-experienced principals and agents who simply wanted to continue doing what they do best – selling real estate?

Qualifications needed for Agents:

A practising estate agent in possession of a “Full Status” Fidelity Fund Certificate:

  • Must have obtained their NQF4 via the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) route before 31 December 2013.
  • Certain degrees or diplomas may exempt the agent from completing the NQF4 qualification. However, these have to be discussed on an individual basis with the training provider concerned.
  • After receiving NQF4 certification, agents will have a further two years in which to write the PDE4 (Professional Designation Exam) – a qualification governed and regulated by the EAAB.

An intern estate agent who is in possession of an “Intern Status” Fidelity Fund Certificate for more than 12 months:

  • Can obtain the NQF4 qualification via the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) route.
  • Certain degrees or diplomas may exempt the agent from the NQF4 qualification. However, these have to be discussed on an individual basis with the training provider concerned.
  • Intern agents who have been issued with more than two Fidelity Fund Certificates (more than 24 months) have to obtain the NQF4 before 31 December 2013.
  • After NQF4 certification, the agent will then have a further two years a before they must write the Professional Designation Exam 4 – a qualification governed and regulated by the EAAB

All new entrants to the industry and intern estate agents who registered after 1 January 2013 for the first time:

  • Must register for the Full Intern Training program.
  • Must do a 12 month internship with a registered estate agency.
  • Must work under the guidance of a principal or mentor.
  • Must complete a logbook as supplied by the EAAB.
  • Can complete their NQF4 via the Intern Training program.
  • Certain degrees or diplomas might exempt agents from the NQF4. However, these have to be discussed on an individual basis with the training provider concerned.
  • If these individuals do not complete their qualification (NQF4 and logbook) in 12 months, the EAAB will only grant them a further period of 12 months in which to become compliant.
  • After NQF4 certification, they will then have a further two years in which they must write the Professional Designation Exam4, a qualification governed and regulated by the EAAB

Qualifications needed for Principals:

An existing principal in possession of a 2008 “Principal” Fidelity Fund Certificate:

  • Must have obtained the NQF5 via the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) route before 31 December 2013.
  • Agents who fall into this category will then have a further two years after NQF5 certification in which to write the Professional Designation Exam 5 – a qualification governed and regulated by the EAAB

An existing principal who received his/her first Principal Fidelity Fund certificate after 15 July 2008:

  • Agents who fall into this category must first obtain the NQF4 qualification via the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) route. Once completed, they are entitled to embark on the NQF5 qualification. Both qualifications must be completed before 31 December 2013.
  • After NQF5 certification, they will  have a further two years  in which they must write the Professional Designation Exam – a qualification governed and regulated by the EAAB.

Information supplied by Nantes Le Roux iSeleSele Property Academy Cape Town.

 

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