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Employers must engage with the qualifications reform

A major reform of the vocational qualifications systemis currently being undertaken. By Ann Watson

The Qualification Credit Framework (QCF) is a new way ofrecognising learner achievements and accrediting qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

While fully supporting Government’s attempts to provide more choice and flexibility in vocational learning, more needs to be done to raise awareness of the QCF to further avoid deterring businesses from implementing important training programmes.

Government argues that it is difficult for employers to understand the various qualifications that learners can hold.  The QCF is designed to make the system simpler, while making qualifications more relevant to the needs of employers, and more flexible for learners. The new system will mean that learners are awarded credits for each bite-sized chunk of learning, which they can accumulate at their own pace and combine in a way that matches their career goals and strengths.

In theory, this should make training options and pathways clearer to employers, so they can more easily match the right training to their workforce and business needs.

Training is an added cost for businesses in the construction industry, especially when it means taking time off the job. But given the importance of changing industry standards, new legislation and accreditation required by third parties, we are keen to encourage training providers, colleges and employers to engage with and understand the QCF and how it will affect current ways of delivering vocational training.

The QCF should ensure that a wider range of achievements can be recognised within a more inclusive framework, while establishing a system which is easy to understand and responsive to learners’ and employers’ needs.

By reducing the burden of bureaucracy in the accreditation and assessment of qualifications, the aim is to make the entire process simpler and more streamlined. But these positive changes will only be effective if employers are engaged with the QCF as soon as possible. Employers currently offering vocational training should consider the information available and seek understanding about the impact of the QCF on their existing methods of delivery. Employers can find out more via www.eal.org.uk and www.qca.org.uk

Ann Watson is managing director of EAL.

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