Thumbs down for training revamp

The Government has come under more fire over its training strategy as it
launched a major shake-up of vocational training.

Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett made the expected promise
of more financial incentives for employers to offer Modern Apprenticeships
(News, 1 February).

But specialist trainer and consultant Paul Kearns said the Government has
failed to learn from previous initiatives which bolster the supply of schemes
without checking if employers need them.

"Saying ‘We need Modern Apprentices’ and then trying to find people to
take them on is very different from businesses demanding them," said
Kearns.

Kearns’ criticisms follow those of training managers who hit out at the
plans to coerce employers into forcing more trainees through apprenticeships.

But the DfEE denied it is neglecting employers’ needs. It argued that these
will be built in to the strategic National Learning and Skills Council, to
replace the Tec system from April 2001.

Lifelong learning minister Malcolm Wicks last week announced that
employer-led national training organisations will have a formal role in informing
the strategy of the new Learning and Skills Council.

The new programme of skills dialogues – forums run by NTOs to assess the
skills needs of each sector – "will produce first-class credible
assessments of industry’s skill requirements," said Wicks.

The restructure of vocational training, announced by Blunkett, includes the
following changes:

• National Traineeships will become known as Foundation Modern
Apprenticeships.

• Entry requirements for Modern Advanced Apprenticeships will be tightened,
and minimum periods of learning will be specified.

• GNVQs will now be known as Vocational A-levels.

Writing in this issue, Blunkett said critics ignored the remedial work
necessary on basic skills. "More than 30 per cent of adults do not have
five good GCSEs or the vocational equivalent."

By Philip Whiteley

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