In the past the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) offered an in-house training programme to suitable applicants who wanted to become CCMA Commissioners. In 2013 the CCMA, in conjunction with the Bargaining Councils (known jointly as the Labour Dispute Resolution Practice Industry) decided to externalise the programme and elevate it to the Higher Education sphere.
In December 2013 the first Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the CCMA , on behalf of the industry and UWC for the delivery of a Post-Graduate Diploma in Labour Law Programme (PGDIP) specialising in Labour Dispute Resolution and driven by a mutual commitment to achieve academic excellence,. UWC thus became the first South African University to host this programme, delivered by the Social Law Project (SLP) in the Department of Mercantile and Labour Law.
The qualification was, and remains, aimed at enhancing the legal and practical skills of trade unionists, industrial relations practitioners, human resource practitioners, legal practitioners, aspirant CCMA commissioners and Bargaining Council panellists. The first cohort of students registered in 2014 and the programme has been offered annually ever since.
The PGDip programme seeks to maintain an appropriate balance between legal theory and practical skills. It is directly aligned with academic standards of the University and the Department of Higher Education. Comprising four modules, the content is continuously updated in terms of amendments to labour legislation as well as case law. This also applies to legal resources, including the frequently updated CCMA materials and Manuals. In addition, participants are exposed to contemporary developments in the world of work, based on ongoing research within CENTROW.
To gain admission to the Programme, candidates must be in possession of a first degree and relevant work experience. However, candidates with relevant work experience but without a first degree who show a keen interest in the programme may also gain admission via UWC’s system of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). This is in keeping with the University’s policy of promoting access while maintaining high academic standards and, to date, all the students who had been admitted via the RPL programme have successfully completed the programme. In fact, a number of them have graduated at the top of their class.
As a further measure for promoting access, SLP has also developed an Advanced Diploma in Labour Law (ADLL) which will be implemented in 2022 as a full national qualification. The purpose is to bridge the gap between the educational levels of many potential candidates without a first degree and entry to the PGDIP Programme.
Professionalising the labour dispute resolution sector is at the core of these offerings. The outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020 presented its own set of challenges for both students and lecturers. The delivery of the programme shifted to online teaching and learning. Changing over from the context of a contact lecture programme was challenging for students and lecturers. The experience of the past year, however, has thrust us into a flexible teaching and learning paradigm which we have developed further, supported by the University and learning from the rapidly increasing experience in this field both nationally and internationally. We also look forward to ongoing enhancement of the content of these programmes by aligning curriculum development with cutting-edge research being conducted by CENTROW in the field of labour law, labour market regulation and the changing world of work.
 SLP is a labour law research and development unit currently located within the Faculty of Law’s newly established Centre for Transformative Regulation of Work (CENTROW).
About the author: Ernest Booys an admitted Advocate. Read more
About the author: Fairuz Mullagee is the coordinationar of the Social Law Project at the Faculty of Law at UWC. Read more
About the author: Roger Ronnie is a researcher and facilitator with the Social Law Project (SLP), situated in the Law Faculty at the University of the Western Cape. Read more