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Cross-border provision of public services for Wales: Further and higher education - Welsh Affairs Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1060-1064)


7 OCTOBER 2008

  Q1060  Albert Owen: With you being more of an international group, talking about your European partners, is there a differential between the UK and the rest of Europe that you have noticed?

  Mr Griffiths: They do not have the same literacy and numeracy issues when they join the apprenticeship.

  Mr Fleming: One point I would like to make is that as an organisation we are trying to use wider and wider deployment of structure programmes. As Gary has said, we are now looking at the Level 2 programme for our semi-skilled population. We have adult apprenticeships. The reason we are using these frameworks is so we can give people assessment and support in these types of activities. We have on-site through Deeside College local initiatives so if somebody does have basic skill needs we have support mechanisms. At the moment, as an employer, it is very, very difficult to get individuals to own up to those deficiencies, so we are trying to use the programmes to identify them.

  Mr Griffiths: As per the Welsh Assembly initiative that anybody who is on a funded programme needs to have a basic skills assessment, we incorporate that into our apprenticeships both for our adults and our new entry apprentices as well. That is how we support the individuals who need it.

  Q1061  Mark Williams: Specifically in your brief you talk at length about the concerns you have over the qualification system and the change in the NVQ procedures. In response to Ms Griffiths' question you asked for clarity. Are you getting clarity from the Welsh Assembly Government on the issue of NVQs? In Scotland they are quite clear on it. It seems from your brief you are unclear as to which route the Assembly is going to take.

  Mr Griffiths: I think that is still the case. They have not communicated to us the direction that they propose to take with regards to the qualification. We work closely with the Assembly and we have very good relationships with people within the Department but they have not actually announced as yet the direction they are going to be taking with regards to the qualification structure.

  Q1062  Mark Williams: What route would you like them to take?

  Mr Griffiths: I would like them to work together with England to ensure we have got something we can use across both sites. I do not see the advantage of us going down an independent route as Scotland has decided. However, there are still some issues around what is being proposed and I would like employers to be able to input into that debate, for instance if the proposal to get rid of NVQs needs to be reviewed and there needs to be a change in the policy around that across both England and Wales.

  Q1063  Mark Williams: In a Welsh context, and I appreciate you have said you want some parity, how much of an input do you have in that balance between vocation versus academic outcomes in the NVQs? How much input do you have in the specifics, or do you envisage having in the specifics of the balance between academic versus vocational?

  Mr Griffiths: From an employers' point of view I think that the vocational element of the programme is something that we need to have and it needs to be supported academically through the academic programmes as well. We need to have a vocational route that will measure people's competence that we will be able to underpin with an academic qualification as well. Our concern is that if they get rid of the NVQs then we are not going to be able to use that and there will not be a consistent approach by all engineering employers. This is something that is a UK concern and SEMTA are lobbying hard on our behalf for that.

  Q1064  Mark Williams: Any indication when the Assembly are going to have an outcome on this?

  Mr Griffiths: I am not aware, no.

  Mr Fleming: No.

  Chairman: Could I thank you on behalf of the Committee for your evidence, firstly for the very interesting points you were making about apprenticeships and the low level of understanding about what you are doing. The Select Committee on Universities, Innovation and Skills are currently undertaking pre-legislative scrutiny on a draft Apprenticeship Bill. We undertake to pass on to that Committee the evidence you have given, but you may also wish to submit some evidence yourself. We will arrange for you to be given the contact details for that Committee. If you feel that there are some points that we have not covered we would be very pleased to receive a supplementary memorandum from you. Thank you very much.

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