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Sarah Pallett

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Demystifying the Qualifications and Credit Framework

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By the end of 2010, all key vocational qualifications must be registered on the Qualifications and Credit Framework. But what is it, how will it work and what will its effect be? Sarah Pallett discusses the new framework and how it will benefit training providers, employers and learners.

What is the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF)?

The QCF is a new framework for recognising and accrediting qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The framework is at the heart of a major reform of the vocational qualifications system designed to make the whole system simpler to understand and more inclusive. The intention is to make both the system and the qualifications offered far more relevant to the needs of employers and more flexible and accessible for learners. The QCF will build upon the current National Qualifications Framework (NQF) qualifications system by making it more flexible and more responsive to learner and employer needs. The QCF adopts a credit based approach making it easier for training providers and employers to track progress.

What are the anticipated benefits of the QCF?

Key benefits to training providers:

• The chance to design more flexible programmes

• Improve retention and progression rates

• Track all learners’ achievements through use of an Unique Learner Number (ULN) and the Learner Achievement Record

• Communicate more easily with learners and employers Key benefits to employers: • The ability to understand and easily compare the level and size of achievements of prospective employees

• The opportunity to obtain recognition for in-house training

• The opportunity to source bite sized training for employees

• Trained employees are more loyal to an organisation

Key benefits to learners:

• More choice and flexibility in their personal or career development

• A better understanding of how long each unit or qualification will take and levels of difficulty

• The ability to achieve at their own pace

• The opportunity to combine units to achieve a variety of qualifications

• The ability to transfer credits between qualifications to avoid duplication of learning

• Access to their own electronic learner achievement record listing every unit and qualification achieved

How will the QCF work?

Every unit and qualification will have a credit value (one credit represents 10 notional learning hours) and a level between Entry Level and Level 8 (showing levels of difficulty). There are three sizes of qualifications on the QCF:

• Awards - 1 to 12 credits

• Certificates - 13 to 36 credits

• Diplomas - 37 credits or more

Each qualification title contains the following:

• Awarding body

• The level of the qualification (reflecting level of difficulty - Entry level to Level 8) e.g. Level 2

• The size of qualification (Award/Certificate/Diploma) e.g. Award

• Details indicating the content of the qualification e.g. Business Skills By looking at the title of a qualification it will be possible to judge how difficult it is, how long it will take the average learner to complete, and its general content.

A quick comparison:

• GCSEs (grade A*- C) = level 2

• GCE A Levels = level 3

Learners will be able to transfer credits between qualifications, even if they are assessed by a different awarding body, and will therefore avoid having to retake any units if they start a new qualification.

How will the QCF affect training?

Training providers and employers can monitor learners’ progress using the Managing Information Across Partners (MIAP) programme, led by the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL). MIAP issues a Unique Learner Number to the learner and the training provider through the Learner Registration Service. Once this has been issued, a record of achievement will start to form. Funding Funding for qualifications is changing during this year, with qualifications on both the NQF and QCF being funded by the LSC and the DEL.

Priority qualifications eligible for funding will be determined in Sector Qualification Strategies action plans, developed by Sector Skills Councils, during 2009. By July 2010 no new enrolments on NQF will be eligible for funding, with continuing learners on the NQF funded to complete their qualification, and by August 2010 the funding will be fully focused on QCF.

Trials are currently taking place which will help to define whether individual units will be funded. Implementing change management An element of change management will be required to smooth the transition onto the QCF, enabling users to break down the elements of the new framework that are of importance to them. The QCF promises to bring some exciting changes for all involved in education and training. With a more personalised approach for the individuals and employers, it aims to make learning available to everyone.

Implementing a training programme will become simpler and the benefits speak for themselves. No matter how big or small the employer, effective training can make all the difference – not just upon staff motivation and skill sets, but upon customer satisfaction and a company’s bottom line. Qualifications are not just about improving basic skills to help people get jobs; they are about helping people to reach their full potential within a job.

Sarah Pallett is qualifications manager at awarding body EDI, a leading international education company with a wide range of products and services including vocational and professional qualifications. To find out more about EDI accredited qualifications or for more information on QCF contact 08707 202909, email: [email protected] or visit http://www.ediplc.com

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