SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.

National Certificate: Plastics Manufacturing 
49448  National Certificate: Plastics Manufacturing 
SGB Plastics Manufacturing 
MERSETA - Manufacturing, Engineering and Related Services Education and Training Authority  OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
National Certificate  Field 06 - Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology  Manufacturing and Assembly 
Undefined  129  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  Regular-Unit Stds Based 
Passed the End Date -
Status was "Reregistered" 
SAQA 06120/18  2018-07-01  2023-06-30 
2024-06-30   2027-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification replaces: 
Qual ID Qualification Title Pre-2009 NQF Level NQF Level Min Credits Replacement Status
20891  National Certificate: Plastics Manufacturing  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  125  Complete 

The purpose of the qualification is to provide learners, education and training providers and employers with the standards and the range of learning required to satisfy the challenges of participating effectively in the plastics manufacturing industry.
For those who have been in the workplace for a long time, this qualification can be used in the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process to assess and recognise workplace skills acquired without the benefit of formal education or training.
For the new entrant or for someone changing from another field, this qualification describes the learning outcomes (the skills, knowledge and values) required to effectively participate in a structured workplace.
For education and training providers, this qualification provides guidance for the development of appropriate learning programmes. For employers, this qualification enables skills gaps to be identified and programmes to close skills gaps to be developed, and acts as an external benchmark for fulfilling the criteria of national and international quality standards such as ISO 9000:2000.
This qualification recognises the skills, knowledge and values acquired by learners to maintain all aspects of an efficient production system by:
  • Optimising current processes and practices
  • Implementing new products, materials or technology
  • Interact with the workgroup, customers, suppliers in order to achieve the above
    What learners achieve in this qualification will also serve as a basis for further learning where they will engage with issues of management and advanced technology.

    This qualification can be obtained in the context of any volume plastics manufacturing process, eg
  • Injection moulding
  • Blow moulding
  • Various kinds of extrusion
  • Variations of thermoforming
  • Rotational moulding
  • Calendaring
  • Compression and related moulding processes
  • Reaction injection moulding
  • Polymer composites fabrication processes such as pultrusion, filament winding and resin injection.
    The volume production process also includes the regeneration of recycled materials and the manufacture of intermediate products such as sheet, profiles, compounds and master batches.

    Rationale for the qualification:
    The plastics manufacturing industry is characterized by sophisticated manufacturing processes operating in a competitive and challenging environment. The manufactured products have to respond to a wide variety of exacting customer and consumer requirements. In addition the industry has develop export markets, engage in on-going development of new products as the result of changing customer needs, and environmental issues and to respond to competition from imports,

    This means that people working in the industry require a range of skills and knowledge to help them respond to the exacting quality requirements and ongoing change.
    This is the fourth qualification in a series in a career path involving plastics manufacturing processes. This series of qualifications reflects the skills, knowledge and understanding required to participate effectively in the plastics manufacturing industry, whether in micro, small, medium or large operations. 

    The credits and the related unit standards assume that the learner has a National Certificate in Plastics Manufacturing NQF Level 4 or an equivalent qualification, or has extensive experience of plastics manufacturing production processes.
    If a learner does not already have such qualifications or experience, this does not preclude him/her from starting. It will, however, require an increase in learning time.
    The credits also assume that the learner will be working towards this qualification as part of a learning programme which integrates all the required unit standards.

    Recognition of prior learning:
    This qualification may be obtained through a process of RPL. The learner should be thoroughly briefed prior to the assessment and support should be provided to assist the learner in the process of developing a portfolio. The guidelines for integrated assessment should be used to develop the RPL assessment process. As with integrated assessment, while this is primarily a workplace-based qualification, evidence from other areas of endeavour may be introduced if pertinent to any of the exit-level outcomes. 



    1. Maintain and optimise all aspects of the manufacturing process and determine processing conditions for new tooling, equipment or materials.

    2. Monitor and enforce systems relating to quality and safety, health and the environment.

    3. ounsel, lead, guide and develop the workgroup and workgroup members.

    4. Discuss and resolve issues with external customers and suppliers 

  • Current efficiencies are maintained
  • Improvements and new settings or procedures are documented and result in products that meet and continue to meet customer needs
  • Information on all aspects of the manufacturing process is collected, summarised and recorded
  • Changes and improvements are reported, recorded in operating procedures and communicated to workgroup members
  • Any changes or recommendations are based on systematic analysis and the effects of implementation are recorded and reported

  • Responses to deviations and non-conformance are appropriate and speedy
  • The workplace is clean, safe, ordered and operating without bottlenecks or hazards
  • Conditions and incidents are accurately documented in records and reports
  • All workgroup members apply appropriate procedures and use appropriate protective equipment
  • Issues and problems are discussed, decisions are made and implemented

  • Problems are identified and resolved
  • Support, training and motivation of workgroup members is appropriate to their needs
  • Issues raised by workgroup members are listened to and responded to in accordance with organisational policies and agreements

  • Key issues are identified, discussed and documented
  • Resolutions are agreed and documented with clear actions, responsibilities, timeframes and reporting
  • Views, suggestions and alternatives are listened to and evaluated
  • Implementation and progress are reported internally and externally

    Integrated assessment:
    To achieve the aims of integrated assessment it is recommended that the assessor assesses all components of the learning for this qualification simultaneously and that credits are awarded for the unit standards during this assessment.
    It is recommended that learning components (ie fundamental and core) are combined into assignments and projects which are then included in the portfolio of evidence. This will form the basis for the bulk of the assessment. The assessor can then focus on specific areas for further probing and verification.

    The assessment process should:
  • Cover both the explicit tasks required for the qualification as well as the understanding of the concepts and principles which underpin the activities and the manufacturing process
  • Establish how the critical outcomes have been advanced by the learning process.

    The integrated assessment must be based on a summative assessment guide. The guide will spell out how the assessor will assess different aspects of the performance and will include:
  • Looking at records and reports in the portfolio and reviewing previous assessments
  • Asking questions and initiating short discussions to test understanding
  • Observing the learner at work (in the primary activity as well as in other interactions)

    The learner may choose in which language s/he wants to be assessed. This should be established as part of a process of preparing the learner for assessment and familiarising the learner with the approach being taken.

    While this is primarily a workplace-based qualification, evidence from other areas of endeavour may be introduced if pertinent to any of the exit-level outcomes.

    Assessors should also evaluate evidence that the learner has been performing consistently over a period of time. 

    The 2002 version of this series of qualifications was largely based on the qualifications developed by the Plastics Industry Training Board in 1995. These had been benchmarked against the German trade qualification Kunstoffformber/in in terms of duration, training content and occupational competency but had been broken down into three stages corresponding eventually to NQF levels 2, 3 and 4 which mapped to the three year duration of the apprenticeship. The German qualifications were chosen as a result of a survey of qualifications in the plastics industry in the early 1990s.The South African industry had, however, identified a need for one further NQF level which represented a further development of the occupational competencies (ie level 5).

    The original German qualification was subsequently revised in 1997 and was extended by a further year and contained some of the elements contained in the NQF level 5 qualification. The German qualification is now called Kunststoffverfahrersmechaniker/in.

    The German qualification has also subsequently become a benchmark for many other European countries, except the United Kingdom.

    The NQF qualifications also broadly correspond to other occupational profiles in Germany which represent other skill sets related to plastics manufacturing (occupations not based on extended apprenticeships).
    Table: a comparison between NQF levels, German occupational qualifications, and South African occupational titles.

    NQF 5 - Kunststoff-Kautschuktechiker/in: Process technician, Setter/supervisor
    NQF 4 - Kunststoffwarenmacher/in: Setter
    NQF 3
    NQF 2 - Kunststoffpresser/in or Kunststoffspritzer/in: Operator

    The NQF level 3 represents a learning stage between NQF 2 and NQF 4 and does not map to a specific occupation or to a formal job designation in industry. Level 3 practitioners are variously referred to as 'senior operator' or 'trainee setter'.

    A search for qualifications in other countries has revealed little useful information. While there are hints of qualifications in India and the mid- and far-eastern countries, very little concrete information can be obtained. India appears, in part, to be making use of NVQs from the United Kingdom. Most of the other certifications appear to be based on short courses and occupational competence is not described.

    No evidence of African qualifications was found. There is some evidence of qualifications in South America (Brazil & Mexico) but there is no concrete information.

    There are no formal national qualifications in the United States of America, but there is evidence of regional qualifications of the apprenticeship type and some voluntary qualifications from the major employer association. These have a skew towards engineering and machine maintenance rather than manufacturing processes. The SGB therefore used:
    1. The occupational profile generated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics within the U.S. Department of Labor for Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders-Metal and Plastics
    2. The generic manufacturing skills standards produced by the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council.
    3. The National Certification in Plastics (NCP), the NCP Body of Knowledge (BOK) and the NCP Study Guide of the Society of Plastics Industry Inc, (SPI).
    The SPI programme for operators is a voluntary certification programme.

    The Canadian Plastics Sector Council commissioned a project in 2001 to develop occupational standards but there are no published results yet.

    The qualifications were therefore compared to:
  • NVQ/SVQ Levels 1, 2 and 3 and modern apprenticeship qualifications in the United Kingdom, Polymer Technology Higher National Certificate (BTEC), National Certificate in Polymer Technology
  • National Certificate in Plastics Processing Technology Levels 1 - 4 and National Certificate in Plastics Engineering (Level 4) both the unit standards and the modern apprenticeship (Plastics Process Technician and Plastics Engineer)
  • Certificate II, III in Plastics and Certificate IV in Polymer Technology and some of the training materials in Australia
  • United States Manufacturing Skills Standards.

    The comparison was done in the following ways:
  • Entry requirements
  • Duration
  • Occupational profile, duties, responsibilities
  • Course content or essential knowledge

    Findings: There is an overall pattern to the occupational roles, the occupational levels and hence the qualifications, both those based on an apprenticeship and those based on assessment against competency standards. Each country has small areas that are different but by-and-large the levels, occupational roles and course content is similar. This is not surprising since the machinery and the processes are very similar around the world and so the demands on people would also be similar. What is interesting since the last comparison in 2001 is the constant review and continuous improvement in the level and quality of certifications exhibited. Increasingly sophisticated processes require higher-order skills and greater knowledge.

    The South African qualifications correspond very closely to this overall pattern. The only exceptional areas were:
  • NQF level 3: the qualification and some of the skills are not significantly reflected elsewhere - this is generally an invisible transition
  • NQF level 5: The outcomes in this level of learning are beyond the normal qualification exit points, ie the level of those who have recently completed training - the South African qualification represents additional learning and experience and forms a transition to the national certificates or diplomas in polymer technology, generally offered by institutions of higher education in most countries
  • Mathematics and communication: No other qualification elsewhere in the world requires the levels of communication and mathematics that are imposed on these qualifications by SAQA policies. 

    The qualification has been designed and structured so that qualifying learners can move from one manufacturing context to another. They will have to acquire the specific knowledge related to the new context and adjust their skills and values accordingly.

    Employers or institutions should be able to evaluate the outcomes of this qualification against the needs of their context and structure top-up learning appropriately.

    Holders of other qualifications may be evaluated against this qualification for the purpose of RPL and placement in learning programmes. 

    Moderators for the qualification should be qualified and accredited with an appropriate Education, Training Quality Assurance Body (ETQA) and have a qualification in manufacturing, preferably in plastics manufacturing.
    To assure the quality of the assessment process, the moderation should cover one of more of the following:
  • Assessor credentials
  • The assessment instrument
  • The assessment process (including preparation and post-assessment feedback) 

    The following criteria should be applied by the relevant ETQA:
    1. Appropriate qualification in the field of plastics manufacturing at NQF Level 4.
    2. A minimum of 2 years' experience in a plastics manufacturing environment. The subject matter expertise of the assessor can be established by recognition of prior learning.
    3. Be active in the industry and be familiar with the materials, machinery, products and level of technology in which the learner has contextualised his/her skills and knowledge.
    4. Assessed successfully against a nationally recognised unit standard/s reflecting experience and understanding of assessment theory, processes and practices
    5. Good interpersonal skills and the ability to balance the conflicting requirements of:
  • Maintaining national standards
  • The interests of the learner
  • The need for transformation and redressing the legacies of the past
  • The cultural background and language of the learner
  • An understanding of outcomes-based education and training methodologies and the principles and policies related to the National Qualifications Framework
    6. Registration as an assessor with a relevant ETQA.
    7. Any other criteria required by a relevant ETQA. 

    As per the SAQA Board decision/s at that time, this qualification was Reregistered in 2012; 2015. 

    This qualification replaces qualification 20891, "National Certificate in Plastics Manufacturing", Level 5, 125 credits. 

    Core  119163  Conduct tooling, material or equipment trials in plastics manufacturing processes  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  12 
    Core  9904  Coordinate work group to produce product  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  13256  Maintain business processes  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Core  119159  Maintain manufacturing efficiencies  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  12 
    Core  9897  Manage inventory  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  119166  Optimise manufacturing processes  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  24 
    Core  13237  Optimise the quality assurance system  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  12459  Optimise the safety, health and environmental protection system  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Core  119180  Schedule and arrange maintenance and repairs for manufacturing operations  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  15219  Develop and implement a strategy and action plans for a team, department or division  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  12433  Use communication techniques effectively  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Fundamental  12432  Use mathematical and statistical techniques effectively  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  20 
    Elective  15237  Build teams to meet set goals and objectives  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  119150  Co-ordinate the installation of plastics manufacturing and related equipment  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Elective  13203  Counsel workgroup members in respect of HIV/AIDS  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  12458  Develop the skills of a work team  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 
    Elective  119168  Order and ensure delivery from external suppliers for plastics manufacturing processes  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  119170  Plan, schedule and monitor plastics production  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5 
    Elective  119183  Test and evaluate the quality of plastics raw materials and finished products  Level 5  Level TBA: Pre-2009 was L5  10 

    When qualifications are replaced, some (but not all) of their learning programmes are moved to the replacement qualifications. If a learning programme appears to be missing from here, please check the replaced qualification.

    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.