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Guilds to be “at the heart” of skills re-evaluation


Traditional guilds will be at the heart of the coalition government's attempts to elevate the status of vocational skills in a bid to support economic growth, the skills minister has said.

In a speech to the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, skills minister John Hayes said that, even before guilds and livery companies existed, it was clear that different sectors required specific skills.
As a result, it made sense for sectoral bodies to be closely involved in designing training and qualifications and in setting standards.
"I know the sector skills councils, trade organisations, livery companies and others are keen to build on the good work they already do. That's why the government will work to establish a circle of guilds to be at the heart of the re-evaluation of the power of practical learning," Hayes said.
He also called for a "revaluation" of the way that vocational skills were perceived, referring to the value that they added to national economic prospects, the character of civil society and an individual's employment prospects and quality of life.
But the problem was that: "For decades, people have been calling for greater parity of esteem between academic and vocational qualifications. But those calls have invariably fallen on deaf ears. Instead, we've seen the demotion of practical learning," Hayes said.
In order to elevate its status again, the minister said that there needed to be "continuing and intensifying efforts" to re-establish apprenticeships as the primary form of practical training. The sector-led skills system and the role of guilds within that should also be re-evaluated and redefined.
It was likewise important to support and protect adult community learning and to break down barriers to progression in order to ensure that it was straightforward for individuals to move from basic skills training to higher learning.
Therefore, the government intended to support the introduction of a new award for excellence in the crafts.
"I think it is right that excellence should be rewarded and the government will work over the next few months with those working to support the crafts, including the various charities under the patronage of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, to encourage and reward excellence in this area," Hayes said.
A website has also been set up where interested parties can submit comments on the minister's speech. 

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