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NVQs work… if you let them

16 February 2006

I deal with NVQs on a daily basis and it's about time the industry was aware of all the facts regarding them, and some problems.

NVQs are rarely delivered as a stand-alone qualification, but as part of a framework which includes keyskill communications at levels 1 or 2, an employment rights and responsibilities unit, and foundation food hygiene, among other modules.

All the modules are mandatory, and NVQ assessors, working for colleges and training providers, are required to assess both the NVQs and keyskills - because the Government has stated that basic literacy and numeracy must continue while students undertake learning.

Interestingly, training providers are not paid for a completed NVQ qualification - only keyskills. These keyskills are achieved by portfolio and test work, and in reality this means assessors who are trying to develop industry skills now have to give preference to the keyskills. And all of this is for students to attain academic levels that they couldn't achieve after numerous years at school, even when tutored by specialists. Remember, assessors are not English or maths tutors.

Another problem seems to be the amount of time being given for qualifications. One provider operates a "Pathway" course, where the framework or apprenticeship must be achieved within eight months, including the level 2 food preparation and cooking qualification. This, however, is with only one visit every four weeks - a fully qualified chef within eight visits!

The industry also needs to question People 1st over changes made to the newly revised NVQs. A level 2 Quick Service Qualification has been downgraded to level 1 and prevented numerous young people in fast-food outlets, cafés and pubs obtaining a qualification.

NVQs can and do work, but those responsible for their provision must make the industry aware of Government priorities, as well as the estraints and pressures put on us as assessors. We need to get together and challenge the awarding bodies, Sector Skills Council and Learning and Skills Council.

Name and address withheld

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