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A candidate is a person who has satisfied the educational requirements toward registration in a category and is receiving training and gaining experience through employment with the intention of attaining the competency required for professional registration in that category.

The Candidacy programme is also known as "Training under a Commitment and Undertaking (C&U)"

The standards, policies and processes that the ECSA has in place for the candidacy phase are described in the following sections. 




Each category of registration has a distinctive educational requirement for registration as a candidate:




Candidate Engineer


Accredited BEng-type degree


or equivalent qualification


ECSA Document PE-61, registered on the NQF


Candidate Engineering Technologist


Accredited BTech degree


or equivalent qualification


Accreditation of Technology Programmes in Engineering


Section 2 Requirements for Accreditation*


Candidate Engineering Technician


Accredited National Diploma


or equivalent qualification



* These will be replaced shortly by outcomes-based standards, already registered on the NQF.

An applicant for registration as a candidate must demonstrate that he or she meets the educational requirement by one of the following means:

 By holding an accredited qualification;
  • By holding a qualification recognised under an international educational agreement. Agreements in force are listed in Appendix IV, sections A.1, A.2 and A.3.
  • By holding a qualification that is evaluated by the ECSA as being substantially equivalent to an accredited qualification;
  • By any combination of qualifications and assessment that demonstrates substantial equivalence to an accredited qualification (this last process needs strengthening and the ECSA has a project to address this).

The full set of documents that define the ECSA educational standards and accreditation system is available on the ECSA Website




The administrative process for registration as a candidate is simple. If the applicant meets the educational requirement, he or she will be registered.




The ECSA has several guidelines to aid the process of training and experience through work. For each category, ECSA provides the following:

 The desired outcomes of the training and experience;
  •  Guidelines on the nature of work, the standard, variety, the level of responsibility taken;
  • CPD during training;
  • Recognition of advanced study;
  • Responsibility of the employer;
  • Responsibility of the Mentor:
  • Specific requirements in individual engineering disciplines. 

The ECSA does not dictate details of the programme: this is the employer’s responsibility. The mentor also makes inputs but with the objective of guiding the candidate’s initial professional development.

No limits are placed on the duration of registration as a candidate because conditions vary significantly from individual to individual and from firm to firm. The application and annual fee structure for candidates encourages early registration and reasonable durations.

Normally, the mentor is provided by the employer. In cases where this is not possible, external mentors may be used. The ECSA, in partnership with Voluntary Associations, maintains registers of persons who are willing to mentor candidates employed by other companies.

The ECSA has a system of "Commitment and Undertaking" (C&U) under which an employer, in the person of the Chief Executive, signs a commitment to structure training and experience in accordance with the ECSA’s requirement and undertakes to train candidates. The C&U is signed for each engineering discipline and site of training. Several thousand C&Us are registered with the ECSA. Most C&Us are for Candidate Engineers but the number is being expanded into Candidate Technologists and Candidate Technicians.  



Most aspects of candidacy programmes that need strengthening lie in the employer’s domain, namely: 

  •  Increase the number of training positions;
  • Increase availability of supervisors;
  • Increase the number of mentors, internal and external.

The ECSA believes that a two pronged approach is required. On one hand companies need to be persuaded – and there are some signs of successes. On the other, financial incentives that do not involve the labyrinth of administration of learnerships, would be of assistance.

An increasing number of employers are requesting that their training of candidates be recognised for funding under the Skills Levy. For small firms and for consultant, it is believed that it would offer significant incentive to encourage the training of candidates. The ECSA wishes to pursue the following proposal. 


The existing C&U concept will be enhanced to become a candidacy programme as detailed below.

  1. The candidate is employed by the employer in a candidacy programme who will provide the training and experience. The objective of the candidacy programme is for the employee to become registered with ECSA in the appropriate professional category.
  2. The competency standards generated by the ECSA are used as workplace standardsThey define the exit level outcomes of the training programme; the employer must define the build up to these outcomes. The workplace standards do not need to be registered with the NQF. The employer must make specific reference to the workplace standards in its workplace skills plan. In addition, context-specific training guides generated by the ECSA and the sector may be used. These must not conflict with the competency standards but rather provide amplification in the particular work context.
  3.  If not already registered, the employee should register in a candidate category with the ECSA as early as possible in the training period.
  4. The employer provides a supervisor internal to the company and a mentor who should preferably be internal but may be external. While supervisor and mentor may change from time to time, there should be continuity of supervision and mentoring.
  5. Structured work experience is provided by the employer to the candidate. This work is planned using a standard format training record. The candidate’s progress is assessed on an ongoing basis by supervisors and mentors, also using the training record for documentation.
  6. When the candidate is considered to be ready for registration, the candidate applies to the ECSA. Evidence of competence is provided as required by the ECSA, including reports derived from the training record. Summative assessment of competence is performed by the ECSA.
  7. Success in attaining registration is considered to be evidence of the quality of the training programme. The workplace learning programme is not subject to formal quality assurance.
  8. When the candidate attains registration in the professional category, the employer claims the Skills Levy contribution.
  9. The mechanics of the proposal at an operational level will be developed further should there be broad support for the process outlined.