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Vocation to equal academic kudos;Further Education

WALES is considering a common credit-based qualification system to create "parity of esteem" between vocational and academic qualifications.

The credit-based system was adopted by the assembly's post-16 education and training committee this week, when it considered its final report on the Education and Training Action Group.

The system was advocated by Alan Pugh, a Labour National Assembly member and former college principal. He said: "A common unit of achievement will help to achieve parity of esteem."

He said that vocational and

academic courses often have the same content. Cynog Dafis, chair of the committee, asked whether the proposal might be a Trojan horse. Richard Davies, director of the assembly's education department, said there were technical difficulties, but that Mr Pugh's proposal represented "a departure point for a trail worth taking".

The amendment to the final report will now go to a plenary meeting of the assembly on January 26. If approved, the report will lead to a fundamental re

organisation of post-16 education and training in Wales. Higher education, which is not wholly controlled by the assembly, is excluded.

The Further Education Funding Council for Wales would be replaced by a National Council for Education and Training in Wales (CETW). This would be

created as a shadow body next autumn. It would become fully operational by April 2001 and take full responsibility for funding all post-16 education and training from April 2002, subject to assembly direction on principles and methodologies. It would retain FEFCW's joint secretariat with the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

The report says the participation of business at all levels is important, but rejects calls for the CETW to be business-led, saying: "The chair and members should be drawn from a broad range of expertise, with no single interest dominating."

The CETW would be underpinned by four regional offices, advisory panels, and a network of local community consortia. The Welsh training and enterprise councils would be abolished, and their work-based learning taken over by the CETW.

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