The pilot project for estate agents to obtain the new industry qualifications is going well, says Vivien Marks, CEO of the Assessment Centre for Estate Agents (ACEA).
According to an ACEA press release 220 Western Cape estate agents are currently in the first phase of the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process in which their knowledge and experience are matched with the unit standards for the new NQF 4-level Certificate in Real Estate. The project, which is endorsed and fully funded by the Services SETA, and being carried out by the ACEA in partnership with Prodigy Business Services, will eventually produce 500 qualified estate agents.
Under the new educational requirements for the estate agency industry, due to be introduced next year, all estate agents will have to obtain the certificate. Newcomers will do so by means of a 12-month learnership, while existing agents do so through RPL, and are allowed three years in which to complete the process. The whole principle of RPL, says Marks, is to give the estate agent as much credit as possible for his or her existing skills or knowledge.
RPL sessions are limited to twenty estate agents each so that everyone can be given individual attention. In the initial phase, the agents compile their portfolios of evidence, in which they assemble their existing educational certificates , other documentary proof of their experience and knowledge, and any other evidence that can earn credits.
If the agent needs to upskill in any area, he/she should do so, says Marks.
The completed portfolios are submitted to assessors, who are experts in the subjects concerned, for evaluation against the unit standards and assigned credits. An agent who doesn't earn enough credits will need to attend workshops or courses in order to gain the necessary knowledge to earn the required "competent" rating. Once the assessment process is completed, the portfolio is scrutinised by a moderator, and then by a verifier, before the agent's details are registered on a national database, and the certificate is issued.
While most of the work is done in the sessions, says Marks, agents also need to do some homework. After-hours support is available through Prodigy Business Services' call centre.
Marks says the response from participants has been mixed. "Some are resentful at having to re-qualify, and some have come along expecting to be spoon-fed," she says. "However, the majority have a very positive attitude. Estate agents who are used to focusing on the sales and leaving the legal and administrative and other aspects to their managers and support staff are now stretching their minds.
"The agents on the pilot project come from a variety of firms, both big and small, and a few principals have enrolled so that they can go through the process with their agents and learn at first hand what it involves”.