par Planet Labor
The government allowed company’s trainings to be validated by the organization in charge of delivering national degrees. Employees from McDonald’s, Flybe or Network Rail will now be able to get qualifications equal to A-levels or academic degrees after workplace learning. Employers welcome this measure, but some fear that these qualifications will have little worth outside the company.
Historical recognition. Employees from the fast-food chain McDonald’s will now be able to get qualification equal to A-levels after workplace management training. They will learn day-to-day running of a restaurant, including finance, hygiene and human resources. The government allowed this initiative. From now on, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) will be entitled to validate the company’s training. The QCA maintains and develops the national curriculum and associated assessments, tests and examinations; and accredits and monitors qualifications in universities.
Three companies were accredited. Flybe, the low-cost airline, and Network Rail were also able to get the QCA to validate their training. Thus, Flybe has been granted status to award certificates up to the equivalent of A-levels and academic degrees for its cabin and engineering staff. As for Network Rail, its employees will be able to validate engineer degrees at several levels – bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and even Ph. Ds. This training will cover technical issues, and health and safety at work. The firm hopes that eventually all of its 33,000 employees to take the course eventually with most obtaining certificates, at different levels. These qualifications will be effective next fall.
The government wants to increase the pool of trained workers. Gordon Brown announced this initiative this week, whereas the problem of the important number of unskilled workers revealed last year in the Leitch* report weighs on British economy. “The biggest barrier to full employment now is not the shortage of jobs, but the shortage of skills among the unemployed and inactive”, the Prime Minister highlighted. Thus, according to John Denham, the Skills Secretary, this move “is an important step towards ending the old divisions between company training schemes and national qualifications, something that will benefit employees, employers and the country as a whole”.
Companies are satisfied. The employers’ organization CBI gave a warm welcome to the measure, congratulating Flybe, McDonalds and Network Rail, which “deserve recognition for trailblazing this initiative,” said John Cridland, deputy director general of the CBI. He also declared that the initiative is “a significant milestone on the road to reforming qualifications so that they better reflect the skills and competencies employers and employees need”.
Are those qualifications valuable? Since the measure was announced, there have been many critics as to those “McQualifications”, which could devaluate academic degrees. Professor Alan Smithers, Director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham casts doubts on the validity of such qualifications outside the companies which has offered them. “Employees may find they are locked into that business because these awards don’t have credibility outside the company, like GCSEs, A levels or NVQs do”, he said. He added that “the qualifications would be more valuable to holders if they were awarded by an independent body.”
* Published in December 2006, Lord Leitch’s review pointed to the lack of skills among the British workforce and advised A-level qualifications for 2 million additional people by 2020, as well as a 40% graduate level for adults.
e-europnews, February 5, 2008, No. 080092 – www.eeuropnews.com