ESTATE AGENTS TRAINING – A RESPONSE
To state that the Estate Agency Affairs Board (“EAAB”) was utterly dismayed at the patent lack of understanding evidenced, as well as the blatant and misleading misrepresentations made, in the article entitled “Agents Training – Listen Up” by Anne Schauffer would be an understatement.
The EAAB wishes, accordingly, not only to utilise the opportunity correctly to reflect the position pertaining to the professionalisation and education and training of estate agents but also to reassure estate agents that nothing will be dramatically changed in the educational sphere. The EAAB intends, moreover, to ensure that the positions of professional estate agents will at all times be fully safeguarded.
It should, in the first instance, be underscored that the EAAB, and not industry representative organisations, is the statutory regulator and professional body of the estate agency sector. The EAAB derives its educational mandate both from the Estate Agency Affairs Act of 1976 as well as the Standard of Training of Estate Agents Regulations, 2008 (“the Education Regulations”). The EAAB has, in addition, been recognised as the professional body of the estate agency sector by the SA Qualifications Authority (“SAQA”). In this latter respect it is to be stressed that, according to established SAQA policy, no additional professional bodies may be recognised by SAQA in a sector in which a professional body was established through an Act of Parliament, as is clearly the case with the EAAB.
According to the Education Regulations persons who intend becoming estate agents must serve as an intern estate agent, under the supervision of a principal or other qualified mentor estate agent, for a continuous period of twelve months. The EAAB subsequently introduced a mandatory logbook to be maintained by intern estate agents, and signed off from time to time by the principal/mentor estate agent, in a concerted endeavour to ensure that intern estate agents were not relegated to the periphery of estate agency practice during the internship period.
The primary function of the intern logbook is to monitor and record the practical estate agency knowledge, as well as the experiential on-the-job training, acquired by the intern estate agent during the internship period. The logbook also represents a realistic and achievable training blueprint as it contains reasonable time lines for the completion by the intern estate agent of the various required activities which should be discussed and agreed upon between the intern and principal/mentor estate agents. It is entirely incorrect and illogical, therefore, to aver that it is the logbook which imposes a time barrier to entry into the estate agency profession as the article in question purports to do. The logbook is designed to enhance and make more meaningful the practical on-the-job training of estate agents.
The Education Regulations provide, furthermore, that to perform the functions and activities of a non-principal estate agent a person must complete the Further Education and Training Certificate: Real Estate - which qualification is pitched at NQF Level 4. Similarly, to perform the functions and activities of a principal estate agent a person must complete the National Certificate: Real Estate, which is an NQF Level 5 qualification. The two qualifications are quality assured by the Services SETA (“SSETA”) while training is given by real estate education providers who are accredited by the SSETA.
The article in question is entirely abstruse in this respect. While it correctly notes, on the one hand, that the real estate qualifications will expire on 30 June 2018 it refers, on the other hand, to the Director of the NQF having indicated that there is generally an extended ‘teach-out’ period enabling already registered learners to complete the qualification, it fails explicitly to draw these two threads together. The truth of the matter is that while the real estate qualifications will expire on 30 June 2018 there is, indeed, a ‘teach-out’ period until 2022. Leaners enrolling for the qualifications, therefore, need have no fear that they will not be able to complete the same or that the qualifications will no longer be recognised.
The article misguidedly, and somewhat fixatedly, laments the absence of a ‘Plan B’. The fact is that the EAAB is presently commencing the process, together with the SSETA (which will be realigning a vast number of different qualifications) and interested stakeholders, of realigning the legacy real estate qualifications to meet Quality Council on Trades and Occupations (“QCTO”) requirements. Regard, in so doing, will be taken of the interests of the various differentiated spheres of estate agency making up the sector. The EAAB has every intention of completing the realignment process prior to the termination date of the legacy real estate qualifications. Entrants to the estate agency sector, thus, need entertain no doubts or concerns relating to the real estate qualifications necessary to gain admittance to the estate agency profession.
Once the envisaged Property Practitioners Bill, referred to in the article, has been promulgated into law, thereby clarifying the definition of “property practitioner”, the process of developing new occupational qualifications for the property practitioner sector will commence. There is no urgency attaching to the development of such occupational qualifications as the realigned real estate qualifications will be carried over until this task has been finalised.
The Education Regulations provide that, to gain professional status, both non-principal and principal estate agents must complete the Professional Designation Examination (“PDE”) conducted by the EAAB. As the PDE remains fully within the control of the EAAB, or any successor regulatory body, this examination is not affected by the NQF real estate qualifications, the completion of which will, however, remain a necessary entry criterion.
As the SAQA-recognised professional body of the sector the EAAB, finally, has also introduced, and will continue to present, Continuing Professional Development (“CPD”) for the sector. Estate agents may rest assured that despite any necessary changes to the educational landscape they will at all times be fully protected and their interests secured.