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McQualifications Get the Green Light


Network Rail, Flybe and McDonald's have been given the right to award nationally-accredited qualifications to employees for the first time.

The employer recognition scheme will form part of the new Qualifications and Credit Framework.

John Denham, secretary of state for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills said: "By accrediting high quality in house training schemes we can recognise the value of company training.

This is an important step towards ending the old divisions between company training schemes and national qualifications, something that should benefit both employers and employees."

For more information on the QCF, details on taking part in the trials and the QCF consultation, visit:

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The CIPD welcomed the announcement for companies' such as McDonalds, Network Rail and Flybe to deliver in house training programmes equivalent to A Levels.

John McGurk, CIPD's learning, training and development adviser said: "The CIPD is delighted the government is formally recognising high quality in house training programmes like those announced today.

"With an increasing number of UK organisations facing acute recruitment and skills shortages, many employers see in-house training and apprenticeships as a better means of addressing these than externally provided courses.

"Training and qualifications are central to upskilling employees and improving productivity. But any effort to increase skills has to be underpinned by good people management. The assumption is still that more training and qualifications automatically produces higher productivity. However skills development is much less effective if it is detached from people management practices such as job appraisal and reward.

"Organisations must also be aware skills training should be transferable to other roles and companies, allowing individuals to develop and contribute to the UK's knowledge economy ."

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The news was also welcomed by the CBI as a positive move towards an awards system that can deliver the skills employers need.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general said:

"Today marks a significant milestone on the road to reforming qualifications so that they better reflect the skills and competencies employers and employees need.

"Companies currently invest £33 billion every year in training their staff, but only one-third of employer training leads to qualifications because not enough official courses offer the competencies that employers require.

"Firms have instead run their own bespoke training programmes and formally recognising more of this employer training will lead to more relevant qualifications and give a greater recognition to business and employee investment in skills.

"The progress has been made is very encouraging. It is vital that reform continues apace and we look forward to further developments before the pilots conclude in March.

"Flybe, McDonalds and Network Rail deserve recognition for trail blazing this initiative and making it easier for companies wanting to follow in their footsteps."

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Jane Milne, director of Business Environment at the British Retail Consortium, said: “Members of the BRC provide a variety of excellent training opportunities and we hope to see more offering accredited training in future.

"In the past generic vocational qualifications didn’t deliver the core competencies that employers require and, in response, employers have developed bespoke training packages. Accrediting these in-house programmes results in more relevant qualifications and gives businesses the recognition they deserve for investing in skills."

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Skillsmart Retail - currently working alongside the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) on the awards scheme - gave the news a cautious thumbs up and urged retailers to consider all of their options if thinking of doing the same.

Beverley Paddey, head of standards and qualifications for Skillsmart Retail, said: "Employers formally recognising their training is an important part of raising skill levels and we welcome any moves to support this.

"However, it is clear that setting up as an awarding body does have serious implications including being open to external scrutiny and we encourage retailers to think about the range of options that are also available.

"We have been working very successfully with the QCA and existing awarding bodies on ways for retailers to offer formal qualifications to their staff and this has worked very well for a range of companies including Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

"There are now a number of choices available to retailers who wish have their in-house training recognised and we would be happy to talk to them about potential solutions."

Skillsmart Retail is currently working with the QCA on its Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) - an umbrella term that incorporates the plan to award businesses with awarding body status.

Beverley Paddey added: "As part of the QCF we are working to create new vocational qualifications equivalent to GCSEs and A Levels and we encourage employers to work with us to continue to map their training against the standards that we have developed."

Skillsmart Retail research has found that retailers spend £1.8 billion a year training their employees, but much of this is not formally recognised. It encourages companies to offer staff training which is accredited, so that its value is recognised across the sector.

The announcement by the QCA came alongside the launch of a Government scheme, 'Ready to work, skilled for work', which describes how the government wants to help employers to meet skills challenges.

It also fits with a wider government drive to get employers to raise skill levels in an increasingly challenging global economy.

Louise Druce wrote an excellent article on the Leitch Review, Is the Train to Gain Already Derailed? which we published on on 28 January. To read her feature, click here.


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