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: http://www.broadbandtvchannel.co.uk/clip.asp?clipid=247
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.