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Applying for GCC factories with a foreign qualification & experience

Applying for GCC Factories with foreign qualification

The Department of Employment and Labour does allow persons with foreign qualifications and experience to apply for the GCC Factories.

In this context, foreign means that the qualification and experience have was obtained from other countries apart from South Africa.

The purpose of this article is to present the GCC Factories requirements for persons with foreign qualifications or experience.

Context of getting the GCC Factories

The GCC Factories is an excellent certification to advance your maintenance and operation career within South African industries such as FMCG, manufacturing, utilities, heavy engineering, and chemicals.

The GCC Factories is not for everyone. The GCC Factories is for you if you wish to secure the GMR 2.1 appointment for large facilities required to comply with the Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Act and General Machinery Regulations (GMR).

The General Machinery Regulation 2.1 requires the employer to appoint a competent person to ensure compliance with the OHS Act's provisions and regulations.

In this case, the competent person is known as the GMR 2.1 appointment and must an appropriate mechanical or electrical engineer's certificate of competency (also known as the GCC Factories) whenever:

  • the sum of the power generated by machinery is above 3000 kW, or

  • where machinery in the premises is used solely for electricity distribution, the maximum demand is above 10000 kVA over any continuous period of 30 minutes

There is an exception to the above rule. The exception is that the competent person can have:

  • a bachelor's degree in mechanical/electrical,

  • passed the GCC Factories OHS Act exam, and

  • has a minimum of 2-years of maintenance and operation in the class of machinery he/she is meant to supervise.

GCC Factories application process

  1. Step 1 - Meet the GCC Factories exam entry requirements

  2. Step 2 - Apply to write GCC Factories exams

  3. Step 3 - Prepare for the GCC Factories plant engineering & OHS Act exams

  4. Step 4 - Register, write & pass the GCC Factories plant engineering & OHS Act exams

  5. Step 5 - Send your statement of results to the Department of Employment & Labour

GCC Factories entry requirements for persons with a foreign qualification or experience

Persons with foreign qualifications or experience will follow the same process stated above. Still, they will have to meet these additional requirements:

  • You need to send your foreign qualifications to the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) for evaluation. SAQA should issue you a letter confirming the qualification's NQF level and the equivalent South African qualification aligned with your foreign qualification. You will then have to meet the GCC Factories route requirements relevant to your equivalent South African qualification.

  • The GCC Factories relates to the South African OHS Act and regulation compliance. You will need to have some experience in ensuring compliance relative to the South African context. This is not a direct requirement from the Commission of Examiners at the Department of Employment and Labour. The Commission of Examiners considers your experience on merit and could very well require this.

Challenges you should think about if you have foreign experience.

It would be great if you have at least two years of South African experience in the maintenance and operation of machinery in a facility governed by the OHS Act and GMR. It is not a requirement, but it will help plead your case during the application process.

Another possible challenge might be convincing your foreign employer to sign your letter of experience and sobriety letter. Please make sure you explain to them what you are doing and explain the context of your application.

In your letter of experience, make sure you follow the Palucraft document guidelines. Also, ensure you emphasise your experience in OHS Act best practices compliance concerning machinery.

Challenges if you live outside of South Africa

The last challenge relates to writing the GCC Factories plant engineering and OHS Act exams. Approved South African TVET colleges facilitate the writing of the GCC Factories exams.

You will need to register to write the exams. All of the TVET colleges only accept manual applications. You will either have to come to the country to make your application or get someone in South Africa to assist.

You will need to come to South Africa to write the GCC Factories plant engineering and OHS Act exam at the TVET college where you registered.


Persons with foreign qualifications and experience may be eligible to be accepted to write the GCC Factories exams.

South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) needs to evaluate the foreign qualification and assign the equivalent NQF level. The SAQA also needs to indicate the South African equivalent qualification aligned with the foreign qualification.

Foreign experience is acceptable when applying for the GCC Factories. The experience has to be in the maintenance and operation of machinery at appropriate facilities as indicated for the different GCC Factories routes.

It is advisable to have some experience in the maintenance & operation of machinery in South African. The GCC Factories is in the context of the South African OHS Act and its regulations. South African experience may increase the merits of your application.

It is essential at this point that you review:

The above will help get a better understanding of the requirements and bring you one step closer to getting your Government Certificate of Competency (GCC) factories letter of acceptance from the Department of Employment and Labour.

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