Professional qualifications for the insurance industry: Dilemmas for articulation and progression

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Seamus Needham
Joy Papier


In South Africa, the lack of articulation between vocational college programmes and those of
universities has long been a source of frustration for college learners seeking vertical progression
pathways. The introduction of a National Qualifications Framework in 1995 appeared to offer hope
of bridging the divide between occupational, practically focused qualifications and traditional
academic qualifications, but, some 20 years later, the stumbling blocks are still evident in spite of
concerted national policy efforts. This article reflects on a project conducted over a five-year
period that intended to ‘create a progression pathway for TVET candidates into university’ in the
insurance industry and the lessons learned in that process. What at first glance might have
appeared to be simply a hostile environment for articulation and institutional intransigence, on
further reflection revealed deep-seated curriculum issues associated with qualifications that were
understood to differ fundamentally in function and therefore in form. The article draws, inter alia,
on Bernstein’s (1999) theorisation of practical and disciplinary learning to show how a curriculum
has an impact on pedagogies, assessment and quality assurance structures. After examining why
college candidates who had succeeded in the first-level occupational qualification with its large
workplace component struggled to complete subsequent university levels, the article concludes
that divergent curricula and pedagogies will need serious attention if aspirations for more seamless
articulation and easier progression are to become reality.

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