OFO is not an obscure/unidentified flying object. OFO Code appears repeatedly in the templates for mandatory and discretionary grant funding for skills development, contained in Annexure 2 (public) and 3 (private) of the SETA Grant Regulations. In order to access funding for enabling work-integrated learning (WIL) a legal person must complete and submit a PIVOTAL training plan and report as, per sections E & F (pp. 22-23) or sections G & H (pp. 30-31) respectively, and as per published timeframes to the relevant SETA/s.
OFO stand for Organising Framework for Occupations <Download OFO Version 2013>. It is stated in the OFO Guidelines (DHET 2013: 4) that it is in essence a coded occupational classification system and a key tool of the Department of Higher Education and Training for identifying, reporting and monitoring skills demand and supply in the South African labour market. It is therefore important for academics at higher education institutions to be capable to make use of the OFO.
The 2013 OFO has been in the making since 2004. The classification units are jobs (occupations on the OFO). The classification variable is the nature of work done (tasks and duties). The identification classifications criteria include two dimensions of skill, i.e. skill level and skill specialisation. The following definitions (DHET 2013: 6-7) apply:
- A job is a set of tasks and duties carried out or meant to be carried out, by one person for a particular employer, including self-employment.
- An occupation is a set of jobs whose main tasks and duties are characterised by a high degree of similarity (skill specialisation).
- Skill is defined as the ability to carry out the tasks and duties of a given job.
- Skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. Skill level [four] is measured operationally by considering the nature (e.g. complexity and range) of the work performed and/or level of formal education and/or amount of informal on-the-job training (including experience needed).
- Skill specialisation is considered in terms of four conceptual concepts, namely the field of knowledge required; the tools and machinery used; the materials worked on or with; and the kinds of goods and services produced.
The OFO structure involves grouping of occupations into eight (8) Major groups—single (1) digit, Sub-Major—two (2) digits, Minor—three (3) digits, Unit—four (4) digits, and occupations—six (6) digits. Higher education is concerned with the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) levels 5 to 10, which equate to the upper-part of the OFO skill-level 2 through to 4. The top three major groups of the OFO therefore relate to the skills development contribution of higher education, namely (1) Managers, (2) Professionals, and (3) Technicians and Associate Professionals. Some undergraduate qualifications may further relate to higher education’s skills development contribution towards the next four major groups of the OFO, namely (4) Clerical Support Workers; (5) Service and Sales Workers; (6) Skilled Agricultural, Forestry, Fishery, Craft and Related Trades Workers; and (7) Plant and Machine Operators and Assemblers. In order to enable the access of discretionary grants for the work-integrated learning PIVOTAL programmes, a working knowledge of the OFO—in particular identification of the relevant OFO Codes—is therefore important.
The Classification of Education Subject Matter (CESM) of the DHET is structurally similar to the OFO. The CESM (DHET 2008: 1) is not concerned with academic programmes; instead CESM confines itself to the various knowledge components (courses or often called modules) which appear within such academic programmes. CESM comprises 20 Educational Fields—denoted by two (2) digits “first order designations[, which] are intended to be representative of major categories for classifying knowledge.” Each field is subdivided into a number of sub-fields (a total of 239 denoted by four digits) and each subdivided into subjects (denoted by six digits). “Second order and third order categories are considered to be natural subdivisions of the major subject matter areas. The hierarchy level of a specific area of study should not be seen as a judgement of the relative importance of that area of study in the South African higher education system.” (DHET 2008: 4) The reason for CEMS is that universities tend to use both unique titles for their offerings and have unique academic management structures. In order to ensure uniformity of annual data returns the Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS). For the Unit—four (4) digits of the OFO, the most appropriate CESM codes were linked—at two (2) digits (where the overlap is too big) or four (4) digits—refer to DHET (2013: 17). This is of particular importance for career guidance purposes.
New green occupations (reflected as “scarce skills”) were added to the 2013 OFO version to support the “initiatives of reducing negative environmental impact and contribute sustainably to environmental, economical and social sensitive enterprises and economies” DHET (2013: 14). Provision had further been made for new skill sets (reflected as “critical skills”) in existing occupations in order to support initiatives. A total of 96 occupations are considered green and identified with a green-earth symbol on the OFO. A further “51 occupations and 17 specialisations were identified as requiring “Critical Green Skills” and can be recognised” by a two-green-circular-arrows symbol on the OFO (DHET 2013: 15).
Republic of South Africa. 2008. Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). Classification of Education Subject Matter (CESM) August 2008. <Download CESM classification of educational subject matter> Electronically accessible from: http://www.education.gov.za/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=5PLnoxrqLLU%3D&tabid=95&mid=507
Republic of South Africa. 2013. Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET). Guidelines: Organising Framework for Occupations (OFO) 2013. <Download OFO Guideline - 2013> Electronically accessible from: http://www.dhet.gov.za/Documents/Publications/tabid/93/Default.aspx
Republic of South Africa. 2012. Skills Development Act (97/1998). The Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) grant regulations regarding monies received by a SETA and related matters. Government Gazette Vol. 570; Regulation Gazette No 9867; Government Notice No R990; Gazette No 35940; 3 December 2012. The Government Printing Works. Electronically accessed from http://www.info.gov.za/view/DynamicAction?pageid=623&myID=361326