Thursday, February 07, 2008


A regular reader of this blog has written to me (going to impressive lengths to conceal their identity, by the way) to share their frustration at the press' handling of the recent story that companies can now give accredited vocational qualifications. The reader says;

I was furious at the way the Government and McDonalds was attacked for the training programmes idea last week. I also saw your link to a web TV programme and when I looked saw that there was another programme on the same site by the LSC which explains how the training policy being followed by the Government can work for business:

The whole issue was distorted by foes of McDonalds used to attack the credibility of a very sensible proposal - that training be undertaken that really reflects the needs of business and that the monopoly of educational institutions in awarding NVQs should be broken. We need more debate on this issue.

Well, I certainly agree that we need a debate, and that it should be conducted in a more grown-up way than the trivialising nonsense we read last week. The courses will impart skills equivalent to an A-level in restaurant management as far as MacDonalds are concerned. It's part of a government drive to increase the options open to students and young workers, boosting the use of apprenticeships to provide more on-the-job skills and training.

I have to say that I thought the matter could have been handled better by the Government - civil service spin doctors must have realised that as soon as MacDonalds was mentioned, satirists and others were going to have a field-day. Frankly, there's so much snobbery about this particular firm, that any sensible discussion was inevitably going to be drowned out. In fact other employers like FlyBe and NetworkRail have signed up too, but you wouldn't have thought so from the coverage.

Holding back the news that MacDonalds were part of the scheme, whilst highlighting the other firms involved, would have generated a good deal more light and a lot less heat on this important topic.


Aeres said...

Just from personal experience, I spent three years of my life obtaining an English degree which I thoroughly enjoyed. However, as a thirty-something computer programmer I find that it's only real use to me is that people ask me how to spell difficult words!

Having therefore spent the last 15 or so years wishing I'd done something more relevant at university I can probably see the advantages of these vocational qualifications over some traditional degrees to be honest.

miketually said...

I don't think the issue was helped when it was being reported as a MacDonalds A Level. Had it been simply a "level 3 qualification", there would have been far less fuss.

Anonymous said...

Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

Alan Macnab writes...

I think it is an excellent initiative. Experience in the workplace linked to what a young person is studying at college or at the workplace is invaluable in developing marketable skills, experience and knowledge.

I did a 4 year degree in Public Administration and spent a year out called practical training. I did my practical training with Dorset County Council. I gained valuable interpersonal and communication skills and experience of doing different jobs. I was trusted with some large projects from start to finish and developed my strengths which transferred into my studies back at college.

I totally and utterly support this.

a very public sociologist said...

My two pennies worth.

The problem with these kinds of qualifications raises the problem of recognition. For starters would one firm accept the validity of qualifications gained at another? I remember not only having health and safety training at one supermarket rejected by another, but having that same supermarket dismiss my earlier employment by another of their stores "not relevant" in terms of work experience!

Second there is the snobbery that this issue has flagged up. Education and status have long been intertwined in British society, and I can imagine having an A-Level or whatever awarded by McDonalds actually *harming* young workers prospects if they include it on their CV.