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Wednesday, 16 February, 2000, 11:28 GMT
Boost for vocational training
GNVQ students getting results
The number of students taking vocational qualifications is increasing
Changes to vocational training - including re-naming advanced GNVQs vocational A-levels - have been announced.

The changes are among plans to raise the standards of vocational education, which were unveiled on Wednesday by the Education Secretary, David Blunkett.

He set out plans for a clearer structure of on-the-job training, ranging from foundation to advanced modern apprenticeships, which are intended to be equivalent to degrees.
David Blunkett
David Blunkett wants to raise the status of vocational training and qualifications

And he pledged an extra 30m to provide training for 250,000 young people next year.

Mr Blunkett's announcement came a day after he made a speech in which he pressed universities to offer two-year, vocationally-oriented degrees - called foundation degrees - to students who are not attracted by traditional courses.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Further Education Funding Council in Birmingham, he said that work-based learning had been undervalued for too long, and that change was needed for its excellence to be realised.

"We need modern, high-standard and expanded apprenticeships which lead people up the ladder of learning," he said.

Tougher standards

The GNVQ - general national vocational qualification - was launched in 1993 as a work-related alternative to GCSEs and A-levels, and since then, 450,000 students have taken them.

But some critics see the advanced GNVQ as a "poor alternative" to the A-level, for less able students.

Mr Blunkett announced tougher standards for the newly-named vocational A-levels.

He said his plans built on the recommendations of the government-appointed Skills Task Force.

"That made clear that immediate changes are needed to work-based training to make progression to higher learning routes more obvious, and to clarify terminology around the jungle of options available to young people."

John Dunford, General Secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said he welcomed the name change for advanced GNVQs as a "step towards greater parity of esteem between academic and vocational qualifications".

Beacon colleges

Mr Blunkett also announced five new "beacon" colleges which demonstrate excellence in further education.

They are: South Cheshire College, Northern College for Residential Education, near Barnsley, Tameside College in Manchester, North Lindsey College in Scunthorpe, and Sir John Deane's College in Northwich.

See also:

04 Nov 99 | Education
15 Feb 00 | Education
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