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On-the-job training door opens

Ken Spours and Michael Young compare Labour's plans for 14-plus students with those of the curriculum's Mr Fixit while Jack Abramsky (below right) asks where the maths teachers will come from to put Sir Ron's reforms into practice A new qualification to help people progress from formal education to on-the-job training has been proposed by John Randall, a director of The Law Society.

His "Certificate of Prior Learning" links the recommendations in Sir Ron Dearing's review of 16-19 qualifications and the earlier recommendations of Gordon Beaumont's review of national vocational qualifications.

Only by linking the recommendations coherently will a qualification be created acceptable to all higher education institutes and the professions, he says.

The professions such as law and medicine have balked at the idea of competence testing through higher level NVQs. At the same time trades such as construction have expressed concern that simulated work experience offered by colleges and training and enterprise councils do not assess job competence adequately.

The idea of an NVQ part I to fill the gap between education and training was proposed in the 1995 Competitiveness White Paper but never found favour. Some pilots are underway, such as the latest effort assessing whether the on-the-job training of a solicitor's clerk and studying for a law degree give equivalent knowledge and skills.

The Dearing and Beaumont reviews provide the four changes needed for a new qualification, said Mr Randall. They provide the common framework, the additional general national vocational qualification units of knowledge and understanding people need for NVQs, the reshaping of some existing qualifications as NVQs and inclusion of NVQ units in broader national advanced diploma.

Mr Randall, chair of the NVQ policy committee of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, spells out his ideas in a paper to the council.

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