OCR responds to Whitehead Review of adult vocational qualifications

08 November 2013

Findings from a review of adult vocational qualifications led by Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director of BAE Systems, were published today.

The review recommends a simpler employer-led approach to developing and delivering qualifications, and calls for qualifications that have more direct links to the skills, knowledge and understanding required within a given occupation.

Alongside greater clarity on the definition of a vocational qualification, the review also seeks to separate qualifications that prepare for employment from those intended to support career progression. There are proposals for a single point of access to qualification databases and greater co-operation between Ofqual, the Skills Funding Agency, Ofsted and UKCES.

In calling for a return to an employer-led approach, the review is critical of the ‘systemic weaknesses’ of the existing vocational landscape and calls for a reduction in the central controls put in place under the QCF.

OCR welcomes the review’s clear focus on addressing the needs of the workplace and the drive to link to related reforms within 16 to 19 education and apprenticeships.

Charlotte Bosworth, OCR Director of Skills and Employment, said:

"The qualification mountain and the inhibiting infrastructure of the current system have to go. Under the QCF, we’ve seen a vast inflation in the number of qualifications, driven by funding incentives not by genuine demand. We support moves to give more responsibility directly to learning providers, employers and awarding bodies, working alongside the regulator, to produce qualifications that ‘are valued as worthwhile investments’.

"A more organic, sustainable approach which pays more attention to meeting the needs of the learner is what’s needed. Giving people greater confidence and skills in the work place should be the prime motivation."