Innovative qualifications designed to bridge the gap between college and workplace training are to be piloted from the autumn.
City Guilds officials are designing new qualifications which may help broaden national vocational qualifications and counter criticisms of workplace training.
The so-called progression awards effectively rewrite some of the most popular traditional City Guilds courses to create an entry-level NVQ; an award based on NVQ credits, but delivered in college.
Officials say they have been inundated with requests for the new awards from colleges anxious to offer at least partial NVQs. Progression awards are designed to be practical and give students the knowledge and understanding required by NVQs, without the workplace assessment.
They are designed to appeal to the jobless, as well as allowing college-based courses to lead on to full NVQs.
Awards in food service, handcrafted furniture, information technology and sport and leisure will be piloted from September, although there are plans to expand the scope of the awards, with the scope long-term to replace many traditional vocational courses.
Some progression awards could also form part of general national vocational qualification programmes, although City Guilds staff admit the scope for crossover may be limited.
Pilots will involve around 500 students in 10 colleges. If they are successful the progression awards will be available from 1998.
Small businesses and the unemployed are being targeted for the new qualifications, as well as colleges keen to expand into NVQs while maintaining their traditional vocational courses.
City Guilds spokesman Andrew Sich said: "It allows colleges to get a foot in the door of NVQ training." Awards in bakery, motor vehicle servicing, basic engineering, radio and television journalism, electronics and welding are being considered.