SAQA All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.

Occupational Certificate: EDM Plunge Operator 
103016  Occupational Certificate: EDM Plunge Operator 
Development Quality Partner - TASA/NTIP 
-   OQSF - Occupational Qualifications Sub-framework 
Occupational Certificate  Field 06 - Manufacturing, Engineering and Technology  Engineering and Related Design 
Undefined  98  Not Applicable  NQF Level 04  Regular-ELOAC 
Passed the End Date -
Status was "Registered" 
SAQA 13121/18  2018-07-26  2023-07-26 
2024-07-26   2027-07-26  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

The purpose of this part qualification is to prepare a learner to operate as an EDM Plunge Operator by implementing Measurement, Materials and Safety (MMS) requirements and conducting EDM plunge programming, EDM plunge setting and EDM plunge operations.

The Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) is firmly entrenched in Government's overall policy and plans to address the key challenges of economic and industrial growth and race-based poverty, inequality and unemployment. It is a key component of the President's Nine Point Plan and is aligned to the policy perspective of Radical Economic Transformation. It is guided by the vision of the National Development Plan. IPAP 2017 is aligned to the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) as well as the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF).

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) incorporated the National Tooling Initiative (NTI) into the Industrial Policy Action Plan - IPAP as a key action programme for the Industrial Development - Fourth Industrial Revolution Division's Future Industrial Production and Technologies programme. The Programme was initially incubated through the European Sector (EU) Sector Wide Enterprise and Equity Programme (SWEEEP) donor funding with expanded support drawn from the National Treasury budget line item for the next Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period to ensure continuity of the programme.

The NTI is the turnaround intervention programme aimed at the rehabilitation and growth of the Tool, Die and Mould manufacturing (TDM) Sector and has been identified by the DTI as a key programme to uplift the manufacturing industry to international standards to develop the market and showcase the niche competitive advantages and capabilities of South Africa. The importance of Tooling in Manufacturing: Tools, Dies and Moulds, Jigs and Fixtures, Gauges and Metrology Equipment are core, key and critical to Manufacturing Competitiveness, as they are key Product Life Cycle Cost Drivers in terms of:
  • Initial Capital Investment to enable manufacturing of any new product, (Design and Manufacturing Cost of Original Tooling).
  • Production Cost Competitiveness (through Production Cycle Time, Reject).
  • Rate, Conversion Efficiency of the product to be produced.
  • End Product Quality standard.
  • Reliability of Production output and End product.
  • Maintenance Cost of Tooling.
  • Occupational health and safety.

    A FRIDGE study was done by the government, with which they wanted to establish the size and development of the industry. This study confirmed the status of the South-African TDM industry as a key support component of the manufacturing sector. This study confirmed the need for a national intervention programme to address the steady decline of this support sector to the manufacturing industry over the past 15 to 20 years. This study found the TDM Sector distress drivers to be skills erosion and job losses resulting in huge critical shortage of skilled operators, designers, artisans, engineers and project managers in this sector. The advent of Industry 4.0, Computer Aided Design and Manufacturing radically changed the skills requirements for the production of tooling.

    The need for revamping and updating the training capacity for the TDM sector cannot be over-emphasised and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) model for provision of training received overwhelming support from the industry. In particular, the advent of this system is considered opportune to address existing problems in the industry, such as:
  • Improved industrial competitiveness by addressing current loss of work to Europe, China, India and other far east countries resulting from the lack of skills availability.
  • Decline in quality standards (out-dated non-competitive technology).
  • Decline in SA TDM companies' ability to meet delivery capacity and timing requirements improving the BBBEE transformation in TDM industry where, as a result of perceived distress in the sector, financial institutions and investors classify this industry sector as high risk, thus empowerment investment to date remains largely insignificant. Capacity building will address start-up SME enterprises in the sector to improve investor perception and improve chances for investment finance improving the Balance of Payments through import substitution resulting from local production and manufacturing competitiveness, i.e. machine setting, tooling adjustment and tool maintenance services.

    The improved competitiveness will further address downstream problems like plant downtime, higher scrap rates, drop in output efficiencies, quality problems, missed supply deadlines, and increased input costs.

    The CNC Milling Machinist is one of the following ten special skills that constitute a Toolmaker:
  • Lathe Operator.
  • Milling Machine Operator.
  • Surface Grinding Operator.
  • CNC Milling Machinist.
  • CNC Turning Machinist.
  • EDM Wire Operator.
  • EDM Plunge Operator.
  • Manufacturing Workshop Assistant.
  • Tooling Machinist.
  • Tooling CAD Operator.

    The range of typical learners that will enter this qualification are people who would like to gain access to employment in the Tool and Die Making and manufacturing industries and those with a specific interest in manufacturing and the production of tooling.

    This qualification resides as one of several in the mechanical engineering and manufacturing environments related to tool making, general manufacturing and advanced machining. It acts as a feeder occupation within this context to gain access to the Toolmaker and other mechanical engineering qualification. This qualification also makes provision for people to progress to other aspects such as general manufacturing and advanced machining, and patternmaking.

    The main benefits of this qualification for the learner are that the learner has an opportunity to be recognised with a well-structured, relevant and current competency addressing some of the advanced machining processes as part of Industry 4.0 and have access to entrepreneurial opportunities within the mechanical engineering and manufacturing environments.

    Society will be served by qualified machinists that not only undertake work with improved skills but are also contributing to the competitiveness of South Africa's manufacturing sector and addressing some Industry 4.0 requirements.
    The overall benefits for the economy would include efficient and effective competencies available to be utilised for economic growth purposes. 

    Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):
    RPL for access to the external integrated summative assessment:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces must apply the internal assessment criteria specified in the related curriculum document to establish and confirm prior learning. Accredited providers and workplaces must confirm prior learning by issuing a statement of result or certifying a work experience record.

    RPL for access to the qualification:
    Accredited providers and approved workplaces may recognise prior learning against the relevant access requirements.

    Entry Requirements:
  • Level 4 with Mathematics and Science.
  • N3 Engineering Studies with Mathematics and Engineering Science. 


    This qualification is made up of the following compulsory Knowledge, Practical Skills and Work Experience Modules:
    Knowledge Modules:
  • 652201-000-01-00-KM-01, Introduction to measurement, machining and safety, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-00-KM-02, Principles and concepts of drawings, Level 2, 5 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-00-KM-03, Introduction to Project management, Level 3, 6 Credits.
    Total number of Credits for Knowledge Modules: 16.

    Practical Skill Modules:
  • 652201-000-01-00-PM-01, Implement measurement, materials and safety (MMS) requirements, Level 2, 12 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-00-PM-02, Make a CAD 3D Model, Level 4, 5 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-00-PM-18, Operate an EDM Plunge machine, Level 5, 15 Credits.
    Total number of Credits for Practical Skill Modules: 32.

    Work Experience Modules:
  • 652201-000-01-00-WM-01, Workplace orientation, job planning and preparation and elementary toolmaking processes and procedures, Level 3, 5 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-00-WM-04, Procedures for chucking operations, Level4, 10 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-00-WM-09, EDM Plunge operations, Level 5, 35 Credits.
    Total number of Credits for Work Experience Modules: 50. 

    Part Qualification Exit Level Outcome 7:
  • Operate an EDM (Spark erosion) plunge machine and set the spark and electrode parameters to perform the required operations. 

  • EDM plunge operations are planned and conducted in accordance with task specifications and measurement, materials and safety (MMS) requirements.
  • Features of the component produced meet specifications, task, measurement, materials and safety (MMS) requirements.

    Integrated Assessment:
    Integrated Formative Assessment:
    The skills development provider will use the curriculum to guide them on the stipulated internal assessment criteria and weighting. They will also apply the scope of practical skills and applied knowledge as stipulated by the internal assessment criteria. This formative assessment leads to entrance into the integrated external summative assessment.

    Integrated Summative Assessment:
    An external integrated summative assessment, conducted through the relevant Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO) Assessment Quality Partner is required for the issuing of this qualification. The external integrated summative assessment will focus on the exit level outcomes and associated assessment criteria. . Should recognition for completed tasks be sought the process will be done in accordance with the Trade Test Regulations. A candidate who attempted a trade test will be given recognition for those trade test tasks in which he/she has been found competent and not be retested in those tasks provided that: (1) the learner is competent in at least 50% of the trade test tasks given during the trade test and (2) the recognition will be retained by the candidate for a maximum of 3 attempts or 18-months from the date of successful completion of the trade test task whichever comes first. 

    The Occupational Certificate: EDM Plunge Operator as a derived qualification is linked to proficiencies related to the Occupational Certificate: Toolmaker and is recognised by industry as employment possibilities. These proficiencies are integrated in the qualifications provided in the countries selected to compare the Occupational Certificate: Toolmaker with and are thus equally valid for the derived qualification.

    The Toolmaker qualification and curriculum is one of many programmes to be found in the various vocational education and apprenticeship systems, for many countries in the world. Industry alignment of this trade ensures that the training content is aligned to new technological innovations, standards and competency requirements. The two best practice countries chosen for the international comparability of the qualification and part qualifications are the United States and New Zealand.

    United State of America (USA):

    The National Institute of Metalworking Standards (NIMS) set national skill standards that help maintain consistency, quality, and transparency across industry and academic training programs and help employers measure workforce performance. The standards are the foundation of credentials that give individuals industry-certified, in-demand skills and help employers identify qualified talent. Industry skill standards benchmark what individuals need to know and perform to be successful on the job. The skill standards describe the primary knowledge, skills, and abilities in which individuals must be proficient to meet performance requirements and expectations in the workplace.

    The national skill standards are developed and validated by industry professionals representing a spectrum of sectors. The development process includes a series of national review sessions and interviews with employers and employees across industry sectors to document and validate the basic requirements for the majority of skilled positions within the industry. The NIMS standards serve as the basis for certifying individual skills. NIMS offers multiple credentials within each standard to validate a complete set of skills needed for the particular occupation and these multiple credentials are awarded at Level I, II and III.

    NIMS has developed skill standards for:
  • Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
  • CNC/NC Punch Press.
  • Diemaking.
  • Industrial Technology Maintenance (ITM).
  • Laser Cutting.
  • Machine Building.
  • Machine Maintenance.
  • Machining.
  • Metalforming.
  • Moldmaking.
  • Press Brake.
  • Screw Machining.
  • Slide Forming.
  • Stamping.

    New Zealand(NZ):

    Components of the NZ Register Level 4 qualification (ANZSCO Skill Level 3) qualification compares well with the Occupational Certificate: EDM Plunge Operator.

    The New Zealand qualification will ensure that specific tasks can be executed which include EDM Plunge operations:
  • Study drawings and specifications to determine dimensions and tolerances of articles to be manufactured and models to be constructed.
  • Measure and mark out metal stock and castings using various gauges.
  • Shape metal and wood stock using machine tools.
  • Check accuracy of manufactured articles and finished patterns to fine tolerances, using precision measuring instruments.
  • Test and modify manufactured articles.

    These tasks are pitched at skill level 3 and could lead to specialisation in:
  • Die Caster.
  • Die Sinker.
  • Jigmaker (Metal).
  • Plastic Mould Maker.
  • Press-tool Maker.

    There are differences based on the Degree of integration into the educational system, the mechanisms of regulation, forms of government support for apprenticeship, and industry commitment to the system. The length of the different programmes also varies, but the duration of 6 - 8 months appears to be average.

    The South African qualification is comparable to what is found in the chosen comparisons, in terms of what the qualification covers in terms of content, the level of skills that have to be developed and the duration of study. 

    Horizontal Articulation:
  • Occupational Certificate: EDM Wire Operator, Level 4.

    Vertical Articulation:
  • Occupational Certificate: Tooling Machinist, Level 5. 


    Part Qualification Exit Level Outcome 7:
  • Operate an EDM (Spark erosion) plunge machine and set the spark and electrode parameters to perform the required operations. 

  • NOTES 
    Qualifying for external assessment:
  • In order to qualify for an external assessment, learners must provide proof of completion of all required modules by means of a statement of results and work experience.

    Additional legal or physical entry requirements:
  • None.

    Criteria for the accreditation of providers:
  • Accreditation of providers will be done against the criteria as reflected in the relevant curriculum on the QCTO website.
  • The curriculum title and code is: EDM Plunge Operator: 652201-000-01-07.

    Encompassed Trades:
  • This qualification encompasses the following trades as recorded on the NLRD
  • This is not a trade qualification.

    Assessment Quality Partner:
  • National Artisan Moderation Body.

    Parent Qualification:
  • 652201-000-01-00, Occupational Certificate: Toolmaker, Level 5, 664 Credits.

    Derived qualifications related to this qualification:
  • 652201-000-01-01, Occupational Certificate: Lathe Operator, Level 3, 104 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-02, Occupational Certificate: Milling Machine Operator, Level 3, 72 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-03, Occupational Certificate: Surface Grinding Operator, Level 3, 80 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-04, Occupational Certificate: CNC Milling Machinist, Level 4, 148 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-05, Occupational Certificate: CNC Turning Machinist, Level 4, 139 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-06, Occupational Certificate: EDM Wire Operator, Level 4, 98 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-08, Occupational Certificate: Manufacturing Workshop Assistant, Level 3, 58 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-09, Occupational Certificate: Tooling Machinist, Level 5, 457 Credits.
  • 652201-000-01-10, Occupational Certificate: Tooling CAD Operator, Level 4, 67 Credits. 


    This information shows the current accreditations (i.e. those not past their accreditation end dates), and is the most complete record available to SAQA as of today. Some Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionaries have a lag in their recording systems for provider accreditation, in turn leading to a lag in notifying SAQA of all the providers that they have accredited to offer qualifications and unit standards, as well as any extensions to accreditation end dates. The relevant Primary or Delegated Quality Assurance Functionary should be notified if a record appears to be missing from here.

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.