The National Qualifications Framework contains more than 4,000 items. But in order to meet employers' and learners' needs, awarding bodies have developed a wide range of awards that are used extensively, though not recognised within the framework.
The framework, while it represents a sizeable portfolio of very highly respected qualifications, is not meeting the full range of skills and learning needs.
This means that too much training tends to go unrecognised - and that leaves learners unable to progress or to gain professional qualifications as they learn. Indeed, many employers are therefore investing in training programmes that are not subject to national quality-assurance standards.
To address this shortcoming the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority has started work on the development of a new framework for achievement.
The new framework will introduce a flexible, responsive and coherent way of recognising professional qualifications and achievement for adults. This reform is a direct response to many of the challenges set out in the skills strategy White Paper.
The following principles form the basis of the framework for achievement:
* The backbone of the framework will be a range of qualifications that genuinely qualify people in particular occupations or signify their competence.
* Flexibility will be built in so that achievements from appropriate employer and private training programmes can be formally recognised.
* Customised awards will help meet specific market needs.
* Fit-for-purpose assessment, including e-assessment, will be included.
* Recognition of a wide range of achievements will help people to return to learning.
* Common language and terminology will be used across qualifications.
* The framework will be aligned with the emerging 14-19 proposals so that there are clear progression routes into and across the adult framework.
The framework's provision will be unit-based. Each unit will be measured by credits so that there are no dead ends to progress, achievement can be measured in small steps and learners can keep and re-use credits.