What is Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)?

Recognition of Prior Learning, or RPL, is a process for recognising relevant skills and competencies that have been developed outside of the formal education system.

Simply, Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an alternative way to earn a full or partial qualification. It relies more on what you already know and less on what you have just learnt in a classroom.

See the infographic from SAQA below that explains this concept more fully, or click here to download the infographic in PDF format.

The qualification and credits earned through RPL are the same as those earned by a new workplace entrant in a classroom, and your qualification will be awarded by the BANKSETA in exactly the same way.

We say that RPL is process because it is more than simply an assessment. In fact, research by leading RPL practitioners shows that the RPL process is more succesful if it includes some mediation and learner support.

During this mediation stage, RPL candidates are assisted to reflect on their workplace learning to faciliate the formal assessment. This mediation can either take place face-to-face or online depending on the location of the RPL candidate and their preferences.

Many prefer online mediation because it allows them to get started straight away without needing to wait for a class to be assembled. With RPL there is no detailed training provided in the subjects that you are assessed against, because it is assumed that you already have the learning.

But the mediation process does contribute to your learning in subtle ways. For example, through the mediation sessions you will probably learn more academic phrases and concepts to describe your workplace tasks and you may even learn alternative ways of doing things. But you will not be taught as if you were a new workplace entrant. It will simply be a process to help you understand academic words so that the assessment process is easier for you to get through.

Typically, RPL is aimed mainly at adults who have at least five years’ relevant workplace experience in a particular field. People with slightly less experience may also apply for the RPL process but they may find that they are unable to RPL a full qualification and may still have a few gaps that need to be filled with traditional classroom or distance training.

The RPL process on this portal starts with a pre-assessment.

Once you have selected the qualification you think you want to RPL for you will complete the pre-assessment.

There will be a series of questions and based on your replies the portal will let you know whether:
  • You can apply for RPL for the full qualification;

  • You can apply for RPL for part of the qualification (and which unit standards or subjects you may well need formal training for);

  • You should probably not apply for RPL and would be better suited to attend training to earn the qualification.

Where a partial qualification is earned through the RPL process, candidates are advised to attend formal training to close the gaps in their learning so that they can earn the full, national certificate.

What is RPL?

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We would appreciate your feedback during the RPL process so please let us know what you think and how you think the process can be improved.