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Learning records for all

EVERY learner in Northern Ireland could be issued with a record of achievement under a scheme being considered by the devolved government in Belfast.

A credit system aimed at all post-16 learning, including FE, higher education and voluntary sector courses, may get the go-ahead as early as the autumn as part of the comprehensive spending review.

The achievement records, or transcripts, would make it easier for employers to confirm the skill levels of prospective employees, improve the guidance colleges give to potential students and reduce duplication of courses.

It is also hoped the system will break down the psychological barriers between HE and FE.

A similar scheme already has the backing of ministers in Wales, but in Northern Ireland, while the politicians are yet to give the final go-ahead, preparations are already at an advanced stage.

The province's Department for Employment and Learning has been given a costed proposal by the Northern Ireland Credit Accumulation and Transfer System (NICATS) - a coalition including FE and HE institutions.

It is expected that Carmel Hanna, the minister for post-16 learning, will decide by August whether to support the scheme.

Monica Deasy, director of NICATS, told FE Focus such initiatives are important because the province has been artificially protected from the effects of skills shortages by outside funding.

She said: "There is special European funding which will stop in 2005 and we are in a situation where health and education is better funded per capita than in England, which also won't last for ever."

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