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Crisis fears over trades lecturers

Qualification targets may drive skills staff out of teaching

* ecturers in trades subjects, such as construction, are being forced out of their posts by the pressure to get qualified to teach, says the head of Britain's biggest supply agency.

Colleges face a recruitment crisis unless a new type of teaching qualification is developed, says Phil Harrison, chief executive of Protocol National in England. Any move to relax the qualification regime is likely to be resisted by Lifelong Learning UK, the body in charge of FE workforce development.

He said: "We need some way of recognising that a lot of lecturers are in employment and teaching on top of that. These are skilled tradesmen, but they say there is not a qualification which uses their skills - it's academic. Even if qualified teaching, learning and skills status (QTLS) put off 5 or 10 per cent of people, it would be too much."

He suggested lecturers in manual trades should have the chance to do NVQ-style training (the equivalent of SVQs) and be assessed as they teach.

The Government set targets for 60 per cent of part-time lecturers and 90 per cent of full-timers in England to hold full teaching qualifications by September this year. By 2010, all lecturers will need to complete the training. Last year's figures show the target had been met for part-time staff and 80 per cent of full-timers were qualified. Enrolments this year should ensure the target is met, the LLUK says.

Figures from the Association of Colleges show colleges struggle to recruit trained lecturers in some subjects. Vacancy rates are more than 20 per cent in basic skills and over 14 per cent in construction.

Sue Dutton, deputy chief executive of the AoC, said: "There would be a case, in a limited number of occupational areas, to find different ways of accrediting their learning. But that should not undermine the general principle that qualifications need to be fit for purpose for all."

Monica Deasey, of LLUK, rejected assessing lecturers only at work.

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