Institute of People Management




The Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) is an international practice that gives currency and recognition to a person’s previous learning, regardless of how and where that learning was acquired. In essence, it allows skills and knowledge acquired outside of formal educational institutions to be formally recognised.

Recognising learning that takes place in both formal and informal environments may enable and improve access to employment, career opportunities and further formal education.

RPL of employees in organisations has the following benefits:

  • identification, management and retention of talent
  • the opening up of career transition pathways and the verification of competencies for advancement or placement
  • identification of areas of competence and gaps that can be supplemented or enhanced through further learning and development activities.

SAQA intends for South Africa to address its need for a more skilled, flexible and productive workforce through RPL.

RPL is central to skills development in South Africa and thus:

  • the New Growth Path,
  • the National Qualifications Framework,
  • the National Skills Development Strategy,
  • the Human Resources Development Strategy.

RPL is intended to facilitate the transformation of the education and training system of South Africa and to address barriers to learning and assessment. RPL should assist with addressing and accelerating historical imbalances in education, training and employment opportunities. It should contribute to the full personal development of each learner and the social and economic development of the nation at large.

There is an urgency to bridge and expand existing islands of excellent in RPL practice, and to go to scale with RPL in the country. RPL has thus become one of the elements in the assessment criteria and development practice of Quality Councils.

For more information please visit SAQA’s working document on RPL principles here:

The RPLH assessment process

The RPL assessment is the process of identifying what a person knows and can do, in other words, it allows candidates to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. RPL assessment takes place against unit standards and a person needs to prove their competence against each outcome of the unit standard. At the close of the assessment, the candidate is issued with credits for the learning they have been able to display. The credits are in turn linked to South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) registered qualifications, which could be a few unit standards or even a full qualification. Portfolio of Evidence RPL will only be conducted upon submission of a Certified Portfolio of Evidence (POE) stating the exact Experiential Outcomes achieved which would equate to the Notional Hours of Learning Required as per NQF Level.IPM Policy on RPL
  • The Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) through its delegations to Assessment Quality Partners may delegate assessment functions including RPL to specific SETA’s, professional bodies and other qualifying structures.
  • The Institute of People Management does not carry out RPL but accepts RPL carried out by Assessment Quality Partners who are accredited as providers of RPL services by the QCTO.
  • A list of these providers can be obtained from:
(add list here or reference point)
  • It is the responsibility of the member concerned to bear any costs associated with or arising from the process of recognition of prior learning.
Notes SAQA is in the process of reviewing RPL in South Africa. A working document on RPL principles can be sourced here:
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The Institute of People Management (IPM)
The Institute of People Management (IPM)
The Institute of People Management (IPM)