Bright future for lecturers on Big Mac trail

1st February 2008 at 00:00

With "McQualifications" on the minds of anyone who has so much as glanced at a national newspaper this week, we could be forgiven for thinking the writing is on the wall for vocational education in colleges.

It is certainly true that employers will have more status as much of their in-house training becomes accredited, recognised by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and branded in their name.

But the end for colleges is far from nigh.

Indeed, it is likely that the vast majority of extra training that is generated by the liberalisation of vocational training will go to colleges, providing tuition on campus or sending lecturers into the workplace.

The real story, as we report on our front page, is that the Government's vision is as much about giving colleges their head as it is about recognising the contribution of employers towards training.

Colleges will at last be able to show their true colours, providing bespoke training packages for individual employers or industry sectors and getting this activity accredited within a matter of weeks. Lecturers and their line managers have always had the expertise to respond in this way, but now they will be allowed to do so.

If you're still feeling uncomfortable about McDonald's, however, there is one area where colleges should feel common cause with the fast-food chain. Like FE, the firm has suffered from the traditional snobbery towards vocational training in the way the "McQualifications" story has been reported.

A structured training programme for McDonald's managers used to working at the sharp end of customer service would seem a perfectly reasonable basis for a level 3 (A-level equivalent) qualification.

A classical education may be a passport to joining the self-styled educational "elite" which has presided over this country's decline over the past 50 years, but the future of our economy is safest in the hands of people like these who are prepared to develop their vocational talents. Employers and colleges may have their differences, but their relationship is strong.

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