Christine McCheyne is quite right to be frustrated at commis chefs who, after a two-year course at some colleges (and the "some" is important), cannot make a simple soup (Caterer, 19 October, page 20](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2006/10/19/309590/Qualifications+must+be+earned+with+hard+work+and+dedication.htm)). She is also right to identify that the whole system is not aligned to delivering what employers want. We at People 1st are fixing this.
The NVQ, for example, was always intended to be a qualification to assess competence in the workplace. Our research with both employers and educators has clearly shown that it is not appropriate for colleges to deliver. Colleges have an important role to play in developing students with a foundation of skills and knowledge in preparation for the workplace. However, in recent years there has been no national syllabus operating across the college network, hence no consistency in what students are able to do.
We now have a new qualification to train chefs in college. This is based on common content that we defined in the first instance from our research with industry, and we worked with awarding bodies to develop the qualification. It focuses heavily on the delivery of skills and knowledge rather than the tick-box assessment that has taken so much time in colleges in the past. In line with what employers have told us, it will have levels of achievement - fail, pass, merit, distinction - so good students get the chance to distinguish themselves.
We have also lobbied the Government hard to make sure we get the right level of funding to support the delivery of this new qualification.
At People 1st, we represent employers. A key part of our role is to improve the UK's education and training system to better match our industry needs, something that many readers will know is one hell of a challenge.
It's heartening to know that all the work done in this area and the ongoing support and goodwill of the industry will significantly improve the quality of our future chefs.
Policy and strategic programmes director, People 1st
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