By Nick du Plessis

Times are tough in the electrical industry in South Africa as well as in the rest of Africa and many foreigners are coming to South Africa to look for a better life. This has become evident from the many enquiries from foreigners who wish to make application with the Department of Labour to become registered persons.

Registration criteria

The Department of Labour has set out the registration criteria that a person must comply with in order to be registered by the chief inspector as an ‘Electrical Tester for Single Phase’, ‘Installation Electrician’ and ‘Master Installation Electrician’ as defined in the Electrical Installation Regulations, 2009 promulgated by Government Notice R242 of 6 March 2009.

Section 4, ‘Foreign Qualifications’ states: “candidates are required to have all their theoretical foreign qualifications evaluated by the South Africa Qualification Authority (SAQA) and the practical qualifications verified by ESETA accredited providers”.

Most foreign applicants are stymied when they get to the section of the document that defines the criteria. They then fail to complete the final part of the document and miss the evaluation and verification requirements.


Let’s demystify the process that all foreign applicants should follow in order to address the criteria of section 4 of the DoL’s brochure (OHS 3/1/5/7/9 Revised March 2014).

Theoretical qualifications

Foreign candidates should firstly ensure that their qualifications are evaluated by the South Africa Qualification Authority (SAQA). This is done by going to the SAQA web page on (

Value chain

The purpose of the evaluation is to recognise foreign qualifications in terms of the South African National Qualifications Framework (NQF). SAQA performs this function as an integral part of a national recognition value chain.

Evaluation is a two-phased process by SAQA to

  1. Verify foreign qualifications by ensuring that
  • Issuing bodies are accredited and recognised within the national systems in which they operate.
  • Qualifications have been legitimately issued by those issuing bodies and are part of the national qualifications of that country.
  • Qualification’s documents are in order and that awards claimed by individuals are indeed genuine.
  1. Compare foreign qualifications with South African qualifications, considering the structure and outcomes of the foreign qualifications, to locate them within the South African NQF.

Foreign qualifications

A foreign qualification is issued by a nationally recognised institution and forms part of the national education and training system of a country other than South Africa.

A foreign qualification is not:

  • Professional membership or a professional designation.
  • A certificate based on a short course; or in-service training, a workshop or seminar, or workplace integrated learning, which does not form part of the requirements to obtain a qualification.
  • A South African qualification.

None of the above should be submitted as a foreign qualification to be evaluated by SAQA

Practical qualifications

The second step is for foreign candidates to have all their practical qualifications verified by EWSETA-accredited providers. This requires that candidates check with the EWSETA that has been accredited to conduct evaluations of foreign qualifications.

The EWSETA provider then checks the SAQA comparison of the foreign qualifications with South African qualifications and, based on this, the provider would verify that the candidate has the practical abilities linked to the awarded NQF qualification.

Practical assessment

An example of this would be if SAQA indicated that the foreign qualification is NQF 4 equivalent then the provider would put the candidate through a practical assessment equivalent to a trade test. The purpose of evaluating the qualifications is to ensure that the applicant has the level of knowledge and experience as well as practical ability aligned to the NQF 4 equivalent qualification.

It must be remembered that, in South Africa, we have our own regulations and standards and the function of the EWSETA provider is to ensure that foreign candidates will be able to apply the rules and regulations when they obtain their registration.

Legally obliged

It is for this reason that DoL has incorporated section 4 into the requirements of the registration process. The EWSETA-accredited provider is legally obliged to ensure that South African standards and regulations are known by foreign candidates who are applying for registration; and the EWSETA provider will provide a statement of results in a letter addressed to DoL, which verifies that the practical skills of the foreign applicant have been evaluated.


During these difficult financial times, it is critically important that all electrical work is undertaken by registered contractors and that a registered person has exercised general control over all electrical work and a valid Certificate of Compliance has been issued.

Enquiries:        +27 11 827 4113



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