Illegitimate training institutions falsely claiming to offer Engineering Council of South Africa- (ECSA-) accredited continuing professional development (CPD) courses are having a detrimental impact on the credibility of legitimate training providers, says Johannesburg-based training solutions provider Alusani Skills & Training Network.
In March, ECSA informed its members that an undisclosed company had copied a legitimate training provider’s brochure in an attempt to receive payment for nonexistent courses. ECSA further noted that a number of its members had paid the company for courses before it became aware of the scam.
The council advised its members to confirm CPD course validation numbers on its website before making payments to training providers offering CPD points for such courses.
Alusani managing member Jacinta Tshidzumba tells Engineering News that, regrettably, there are “more dodgy training providers than legitimate ones”, claiming to offer CPD-accredited courses for the construction and engineering sectors. “The perception is that there are no, or very low, barriers to entering the training-provider market,” she states, adding that many training decision-makers are lured into unaccredited and low-quality training courses through promises of expensive gifts.
Tshidzumba warns that illegitimate training providers will also market and provide courses, which are facilitated by individuals who are not experts on the subject. These providers are also guilty of using other training institutions’ accreditation numbers to promote their courses.
She further points out that many illegitimate training providers will use the names of well-known course leaders to lend more credibility to their courses. These training providers will advertise that reputable course leaders have been contracted to present these courses.
Tshidzumba says Alusani course leader Coen Snyman, an expert in construction law training, has personally fallen victim to being falsely advertised as a trainer for a course that he was not aware of nor had agreed to, which has tarnished his otherwise exceptional reputation as a trainer.
Another method commonly used by illegitimate training providers is to falsely claim that course material is approved by reputable organisations, such as the International Federation of Consulting Engineers, she notes.
Tshidzumba suggests that companies should follow ECSA’s advice and ensure that training providers have a legitimate validation number for each course offered. She also advises companies to be aware of telltale signs of illegitimate training providers, such as marketing material with spelling errors or strange alignments, and not including the curricula vitae and photographs of course leaders.