A coherent framework for higher level vocational education is crucial

13 November 2014

NIACE is encouraged by the progress made in the last year to establish an outstanding vocational learning system in the UK, as highlighted today in the publication of One Year on Review, the update report from the Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning (CAVTL).

NIACE also supports the report’s proposed for further developments – a new framework of recognised pathways to higher level vocational learning; progress on a National VET Centre; work on the characteristics of pre-vocational programmes; and a combined VET exemplar framework and evaluation strategy. These are simple and essential steps which will help more people to thrive in their careers and establish a sustainable skills-led recovery.

David Hughes, Chief Executive of NIACE, said:

“It’s crucial we establish a coherent framework for higher level vocational education. Over the next 10 years there are anticipated to be 13.5 million vacancies, but only 7 million new labour market entrants. Employers are already facing critical skills gaps and skills shortages. This is forecast to get worse. While there is consensus around the importance and benefits of flexible and responsive highe- level vocational skills, there is a public policy imperative here too. Since 2010, the number of part-time HE entrants has almost halved and the new Advanced Level Learning Loans are not working for people wanting to study at Levels 3 and 4. Meanwhile, just last year, the number of employer-sponsored part-time undergraduates fell from 40,000 to 23,000.

“So for a new higher level vocational framework to boost and widen participation, NIACE agrees with the CBI that government should revisit its restrictions on equivalent and lower level (ELQ) qualifications. But we must go further in incentivising people in work to invest in higher level skills, alongside their employer. This will require innovative delivery which reflects the needs of ambitious employees and employers through accessible, flexible, online and work-based provision.

“NIACE has long recognised the importance of pre-vocational programmes and is pioneering work in this area. Currently we are working with the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership to raise awareness among employers on how Traineeships can help prevent skills gaps and skills shortages in the region. And our new Citizens Curriculum offers an exciting new approach combining informal, non-formal and formal learning. This will underpin skills and capabilities which, in turn, will strengthen vocational education and training in this country, which is absolutely vital in our aim of securing the first-class system that our economy is crying out for.”