Trade Union Practices Qualification:

Course Overview

Purpose, Outcomes and Rationale of the Qualification

This course has been designed:

  • To address the education and training needs of trade union members and officials in the trade union movement.
  • To develop the knowledge and skills of aspiring trade unionists
  • To equip participants with the knowledge, skills and competence to build strong union organization at all levels.

Exit Level Outcomes:

  • Participants will be able to gather and use information relating to trade unions.
  • Participants will be able to implement different strategies to organize workers
  • Participants will understand and be able to promote and protect worker rights.
  • Participants will be able to articulate the relationship between the economy, political power and the formation of social classes
  • Participants will have an appreciation of the history and impact of the trade union movement in South Africa


The Qualification formalises the recognition of competencies and will contribute towards developing expertise in both theory and practice in the trade union environment, particularly empowering the shop steward, who carries significant responsibilities at this level in the sector.  

This Qualification will contribute to education and training in the trade union movement through challenging current industrial relations training by promoting a trade union perspective in line with world-wide trends and standards. It will also enable participants to promote and protect the rights of workers, and advance economic and social justice. Ultimately, the FETC: Trade Union Practice Qualification is aimed at increasing levels of efficiency, effectiveness, coordination and professionalism within the trade union movement.

The FETC: Trade Union Practice Qualification will ensure that the participants acquire the applied competencies and skills contained in the Exit Level Outcomes and will form the basis for further learning both within the sector – which is one of the largest sectors in the country – and outside of it. This Qualification will assist the trade union movement – whose role in the economy of South Africa is critical – to make a more meaningful contribution in terms of redress, transformation, promotion of the culture of learning and emphasising the holistic development of participants. In essence, it will strengthen the trade union movement.

Course Structure and Delivery:

The FETC: TUPQ is made up of 150 credits. This has been divided into 9 modules.  The duration of each module, is one week or 40 hours of contact learning. The course work and self-study component based on these modules comprise thirty percent of face to face learning and seventy percent completed at the workplace.  In addition, a weeklong Portfolio Development Course is offered as part of the induction of participants, to provide access to those not formally meeting the entry requirements and to prepare those who want to challenge for credit after the first two compulsory core modules. 

The theoretical component of the learnership will be delivered through a residential course of week-long modules spread over a period of 11 months.   Participants will be expected to work an additional two hours on at least three evenings of the week during the course work component.  Between the modules, participants will spend structured time participating in the workplace learning component supervised by a mentor of the participant’s choosing guided by agreed criteria. 


The workplace learning as with the course work will be assessed through a variety of mechanisms described in the Guide. A learner’s log book and a reflective journal will be provided to be used throughout the programme. In addition, printed study guides or participant files will be provided for each module. Furthermore, participants are required to develop a Learning Portfolio as part of the RPL process of continuing to collect and maintain evidence of learning on the programme.

After an introductory module, the fundamental component, consisting of language, communication and mathematical literacy will be incorporated into each module with a gradual build-up of these competencies structured into the curriculum design and development across the different modules.  Participants of the programme will be equipped with ICT (information, communication and technology) as part of the core skills developed on the programme.

Module Name
Induction Fundamentals
Module 1 9A)
Module 1(B)

Mentors Briefing Workshop
Module 2
How Trade Unions Work
Module 3
Political Economy
Module 4
Labour Law as an Organising Tool
First Workplace visit
Module 5
Organising Workers
Module 6
Women’s and Other Forms of Oppression
Module 7
Building Effective Organisations
Module 8
Collective Bargaining
Module 9
Media & Communication
Second Workplace Visit
Reassessment, Moderation and Verification