Licensing vocational trades unlikely to improve standards

Forcing workers such as electricians, plumbers and railway track maintenance engineers to obtain licences to prove they are fully-trained is unlikely to improve standards, according to HR consultancy Croner.

City & Guilds, the UK’s largest provider of vocational training, has urged the government to make skilled craftsmen, technicians and tradespeople subject to “licences to practice” to minimise the number of cowboys operating and help close the UK’s skills gaps.

Earlier this month, Chris Humphies, chief executive of City & Guilds, said it was “bloody madness” that “it is acceptable in the UK for unqualified people to lay our railway tracks, look after our elderly in care homes, and handle and prepare food in restaurants and factories; all despite huge risks to health and safety”.

But Nasar Farooq, health and safety technical manager at Croner, said that vocational qualifications were not sufficient to guarantee a standard of workmanship.

“While we support training and education, it is unrealistic to equate an imposed minimum level of vocational qualifications to improve industry standards,” he said.

“There is no failsafe approach and employers should encourage best practice through recruiting competent workers, complying with industry regulation and providing on the job training. Vocational training courses may also be part of their overall training programme.”

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