Overhaul technical qualifications to boost productivity, report argues

16th July 2015 at 00:01
picture of higher technical education

Comprehensive reform of the way technical and professional qualifications are accredited and funded is needed to boost the country’s productivity, according to a new report.

In a paper published today, FE expert Scott Kelly argues that too few people are studying for work-related qualifications at levels 4 and 5, and says proposed solutions have been too “vague”.

Dr Kelly, who lectures in British politics at New York University's London campus, served as policy adviser to John Hayes during the MP's time at FE and skills minister between 2010 and 2012.

The paper, Raising Productivity by Improving Higher Technical Education, published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi), says the FE sector is “ideally placed” to play a larger role.

It says that there should be a “well-defined” set of institutions based around technical and professional qualifications; that higher-level work-related qualifications should all be validated and funded by the same processes; and that public policy should acknowledge and address the barriers to employer engagement.

“In practice, this means comprehensive reform of the way technical and professional qualifications are accredited and funded,” it says.

A new body should accredit and fund qualifications linked to specific job roles, the report suggests.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said that, with appropriate funding, colleges would be “ideally placed” to create a system of post-school technical qualifications.

“But the terrible reality is that FE colleges are currently facing cuts of up to 24 per cent which would decimate adult vocational education and deny thousands of people over the age of 19 the opportunity to retrain or learn new skills,” she added.

Read the full story in the 17 July issue of TES. You can do so on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents. 

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