Development of NQF aligned training material

SmartScript - Development of NQF aligned training material

The debate about cheap versus expensive learning material

By Narina Horn – Managing Member

A lot has been said about training providers buying cheap material and it seems that some developers automatically assume that, if a client paid what is considered to be a cheap product, the material will automatically be substandard.

While this is certainly true in some instances, it is not a rule and should not be advocated as such. It is unfortunately also a fact that the price of developed material is driven by the market and what our clients, the training providers, can afford. It is also a fact that even more so-called expensive material can be substandard – not everyone is able to develop learning material that actually works and that the learners and facilitators can understand.

At Smartscript, we know exactly what the cost is that is involved in developing learning material. We are also aware of the economic circumstances of many of our clients who simply are not able to pay what we think the material is worth. We have been involved in developing learning material since 2005 and have therefore had the advantage and disadvantage of learning the system together with our clients as well as the Setas, who are also still learning how to actually perfect the system. We have also lived through very difficult economic times with our clients and are very aware of what our clients need as well as what they can actually afford.

Pre 2008 we sold qualifications for amounts between R 60,000 and R80,000. As a matter of fact, we developed a locksmith qualification together with the  Locksmiths Association at a price of R96,000. After the credit crunch, we found that many of our clients just could not pay these high prices any more due to various economic factors. In fact, what happened was that our clients would go and buy some really awful material at the rock bottom prices that we are selling for today. They would then be stuck with material that they could do nothing with and then have to buy material again. We at Smartscript then decided to rather drop our prices in line with these fly by night companies and would then improve our marketing so that we  could sell the material to 5 or 10 clients and make a profit that way. This is good business sense and also therefore ensures that we have a steady income and that our clients have a good quality generic product that at least has our commitment to make the changes required by various Seta evaluators if needed.

If there is anybody out there who doubts the validity of the comments above, consider this: we also write for publishing companies such as Macmillan and Troupant. These publishers sell the FET books for project Management level 3 and 4 at R160 each. One book contains the entire qualification. So, developers, consider this price against the price you wish to charge your customer and think of how many learners your client has to train in order to get his investment  back. The economics of the situation should determine your decision, not your ego. As much as we would like to charge R45,000 or more per qualification, it is just not possible at this moment in time as most of our customers have other options.

Also, bear in mind that even when a developer charges R45,000 or higher, there is no guarantee that the Seta evaluator will be satisfied.

Also, what is very important is that all training providers should insist on something that is called after sales service, where  the developer  commits to making the changes to the material as required by the Seta evaluator. It should never be necessary for our customers to buy new material, really.

We have a proven track record and a vast database as we have been involved in developing of learning material for about 8 years now. We also have  a long list of clients who will confirm that we stick by our commitments. Our clients will also confirm that we send them updated versions (where the changes that were required by the Seta were made for another client) whenever they request  this. We also reward our loyal clients or clients who buy several qualifications from us by dropping the price or giving free material that is expensive and does not sell well due to the price.

Anybody who doubts the quality of our material or our commitment  to walk the road with our clients until the material has been accredited, are welcome to contact us and we  will provide a list of very satisfied customers, some of whom have been with us since 2005. We have worked  very hard to build our customer and material database so that our clients can benefit.

This whole backstabbing attitude of criticising someone else’s work based on the price is something that I really do not understand. Why don’t we rather stand  together, those of us capable of providing a good quality product, and give our customers a full package at a good price. We have a large database but we still do not have everything and there are many FET colleges out there who now need to purchase a lot of material in a short time. If we stop being envious of what other people are doing, we can pool our material, drop the prices and sell to all or most of the training providers and FET colleges out there. This could give us cash flow so that we can start developing material for the new system that is going to be  applied in 2015, especially for workplace learning. In the meantime there are many many learners who will benefit from this as they would have a bigger variety of learning programmes to choose from closer to where they live.

Come on everyone, there are still many people out there who do not have skills and we are lucky enough to be in the situation where we can actually do some good and make some good money in the process!