In response to your news story ‘Licences for manual workers would do little for standards’ (Personnel Today, 28 February 2006), I would argue that there is a great need for licensing to be extended to other sectors.
We currently recognise the skills and capabilities of the professional classes such as lawyers and doctors through minimum standards, but do not expect the same of our skilled craftsmen.
Some people may believe that scare stories of industry cowboys are the exception rather than the rule. But recent incidents in areas such as railway maintenance, rewiring and care highlight the tragic implications of ignoring health and safety.
While vocational qualifications are an indication of the standards and competencies achieved, they alone should not form the basis of a licence to practice. Experience and ongoing training, both in and outside the workplace, are critical in ensuring that skilled craftsmen meet changing industry and technological needs.
A well-regulated licensing scheme for skilled craftsmen would reward training, improve workmanship and provide a level playing field for employers competing against cowboy operators.
City & Guilds