From education to employment

Nurturing world class skills in the UK


It’s a good month to be British! Not only did Andy Murray become the first British man to win Wimbledon in 77 years but the UK also gave a fantastic performance at the 2013 World Skills competition in Leipzig, achieving a whole host of medals.

Particular congratulations must go to Ashley Terron, a bricklayer from Warrington and George Callow, a cabinet maker from Chichester who achieved gold and were honoured as the best young tradesmen in the world.

World Skills is about celebrating vocational skills and talents in all their forms; from plumbing to floristry, from hairdressing to IT. At NCFE, we think it’s important to recognise the value of these skills and nurture people’s natural aptitudes in these areas. That’s why we now offer a suite of qualifications in Achieving Excellence in a Vocational Skill. The qualifications range from Level 1 to Level 4 and aim to extend a learner’s range of skills, attributes and behaviours within a wider context of work-related learning.

As well as being appropriate for learners in Apprenticeships or Studio Schools who wish to demonstrate excellence in performance, the higher level qualifications are ideal for people engaged in national or international skills competition or those on Higher Level Apprenticeships, or undertaking substantial study in a University Technical College.

The suite of qualifications is part of a WorldSkills Legacy Project which is funded by the National Apprenticeship Service/Skills Funding Agency. NCFE has developed the qualifications with North Warwickshire & Hinckley College.

There’s no doubt that the status of vocational education is rising as it becomes increasingly prominent on the news agenda. The Government has recently unveiled plans to introduce a new ‘Tech Level’ to run alongside A-levels and offer pupils a top-class vocational education. In addition to this, the latest statistics show that apprenticeship applications are at an all-time high, showing that young people are turning to apprenticeships as a viable alternative to higher education.

Learndirect has recently published some research, ‘The new vocational currency: investing for success’, which demonstrates that a significant number of employers recognise vocational qualifications as delivering better business performance and increasing staff retention.

Furthermore, a third of employers said they would pay a salary premium to employees with a Level 3 vocational qualification. This kind of research shows how opinions are changing; vocational training really does offer positive, worthwhile employment prospects.

Let’s make sure we continue to support the ambitions of young people as they seek out careers in skilled industries, ensuring we equip them for employment and give them the best possible chance of success at both a national and international level.

For more information on Achieving Excellence in a Vocational Skill, you can read more here.

David Grailey is chief executive of NCFE, the training provider

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