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Jungle fever

How many candidates took a national vocational qualification in pest control, with a specialist module in marksmanship last year? Answer, four.

And how many opted for the NVQ in colonic irrigation? At the last count, only one. Nevertheless, it is the duty of a dedicated central government bean-counter to log every course for the national qualification framework record.

This absurd device of central control has recorded an exponential growth in the number of post-16 qualifications - up from from 16,000 to 85,699 in 16 years. Whatever happened to ministers' pledge to clear the qualifications jungle?

Chris Hughes, one of the Government's top advisers in the current skills debate, has a revolutionary idea: stop counting (page 30). Police the bigger issues of quality and standards but leave the detail to local colleges and employers.

We agree with Mr Hughes, otherwise employers and the public will never make sense of the system.

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