Qualifications for VCS workers
I attended a NOCN qualification panel yesterday and asked whether they could encourage those submitting big quals (Diplomas) to break them down into smaller steps (Award, then Certificate, then Diploma) so that they provide achievable stepping stones for those who are learning alongside their paid work.Posted by Christine on 08 July 2010 09:53 AM
The NOCN’s answer was that everyone (including Skills Third Sector) wants full size qualifications because these may be funded through mainstream sources (the sort of funding that FE colleges get)
I think that smaller bites of learning and qualifications are: easier for organisations to self-fund; more achievable for learners; responsive to changing job roles.
What do you think?
That’s really interesting, Christine - I’m not sure where your contact from NOCN got their information from, but Skills - Third Sector would agree with you! NOCN have a point, that only certain qualification will be publicly fundable, but realistically, most people in the third sector will not be eligible for public funding anyway, as the criteria are so restrictive. Many of us in the sector have spent years pushing for more bite-sized accredited options to be made available and we are hoping that the move to the QCF will make this possible.
At the moment Skills - Third Sector is developing a range of QCF units based on the national occupational standards in fundraising and campaigning and a new generic working in the third sector type unit or units. Units have alredy been developed for managing volunteers and introductory units for trustees. These are in the process of being uploaded onto the QCF. We are also working on four apprenticeship routes/qualifications that we expect to be ready by March 2011. Decisions about other qualifications have not yet been taken.
We are also in negotiation with a number of Sector Skills Councils to get some of these new third sector units included as optional units in their qualifications, perhaps in care or justice areas of work.
Have you seen the National Skills Strategy consultation? [available on the website] - we are keen for people both to fill in the online questionnaire being launched tomorrow or possibly to attend one of the regional roundtable discussions we are holding [details also available on the website]. We really do want to know what works for people working on the ground. Any other views out there?Posted by skillsterry on 08 July 2010 04:20 PM
I’m not sure what NOCN panel this was, but our qualification’s design is informed by learner need, relevant occupational standards and awareness of the public funding climate - Award sized qualifications seem to be squeezed out of this arena.
This is a dilemma for all awarding bodies - together with how we can drive up demand for units and qualifications in the QCF from the third sector, to make the qualification development time and costs worthwhile.
How we stimulate this demand, secure public funding for Awards and single units and enable third sector providers to access this, remains a major challenge for us all.Posted by Guy Farrar on 14 July 2010 07:39 PM
The meeting was the NOCN Qualifications Stakeholder panel, Guy
I do understand the concerns that Awarding Bodies have around the sustainability of their businesses, and you led the OCN VCS project, which was a recognition that learners prefer to achieve in small ‘bites’, especially when they are fitting in learning around their paid work. As Terry says, most learning in the volcom sector isn’t going to attract mainstream funding so stepped achievement is one way to make achievement affordable in both money and time for organisations and their employees.
I’d add that I’m not asking for different small qualifications but for Diplomas to be split into these smaller steps. That means the learner can adapt the content of further learning to their changing work role.
At the STS consultation meeting yesterday, Julie Wilkes confirmed that NOS for Project Delivery - the sort of roles fulfilled by frontline staff in CVS organisations - are on the agenda, and units accrediting those at L2 and L3 (and, preferably, L4) will certainly be popular with our learners. When we offered ‘get the credit’ using local units to back up a single day of training we had a lot of interest.Posted by Christine on 16 July 2010 02:26 PM
Just for clarification, Skills - Third Sector are not looking to produce NOS on project development as there is already a lot of this in other sets of standards. However, project development is planned as one of the strands for the apprenticeship framework and the qualifications we are hoping to deliver, so the outcome should be the same - the identification of appropriate units, combned in a way that is relevant for third sector organisations. We do have quite a lot of work to do to convince Awarding Organisations that there is a market for the awards we are proposing - we may well be in touch later this summer.Posted by skillsterry on 19 July 2010 12:51 PM
As usual, mixed messages.
At the end of the day, the users won’t buy into bigger, longer and more expensive quals. it’s irrelevant what the funders want to impose on us, and force the Awarding bodies to produce. Time after time, learners vote with their feet and give us ample evidence for small, bite-sized chunks; it’s what the QCF is supposed to be about!
I really do hope that NOCN is going to improve its communications with users and stakeholders: I hope I’m wrong, but do the comments here suggest that STS was unaware of a NOCN stakeholder panel affecting qualifications for the VCS?Posted by David on 19 July 2010 05:59 PM
Thanks for the clarification, Julie. I had indeed understood that this would be part of the Apprenticeship framework - but it will still, as you say, start the job we need.
In re: NOCN steering group. I was there as the volcom rep but the Qualification panel’s remit is to look at all new quals development so we were looking at new Certificates aimed at schools that day and just reviewing progress on other qualifications. I don’t think STS missed out on anything, David.
I couldn’t agree with you more on the demand from learners: those of us who remember the consultations on the QCF (6? years ago - perhaps longer) will also remember the excitement of those from our sector who believed that we would end up with a framework that could be delivered flexibly - in-house, through formal training or evidence based - and that could be built up over time and adapted to meet changing job roles.
Is it too late to recapture the dream?Posted by Christine on 27 July 2010 04:41 PM
As the person that chaired the NOCN panel that Christine was part of I’d like to clarify several points, lest NOCN become misrepresented in this exchange, particularly as we are keen to continue to work with our OCN partners and Skills Third Sector in developing an effective qualification offer for the sector.
Christine has partially misrepresented what I said at the panel. What I indicated was, as Skillsterry has confirmed, that public funding priorities are increasingly tuned to Diploma sized qualifications, especially at L3. I also however, stated that NOCN saw the way in which units and smaller Award sized qualifications would better meet the needs of the third sector, but that previous advice from STS ( a colleague who has now departed) was that there was still some uncertainty as to how far third sector organisations would be able to afford to purchase even small qualifications unless they were able to draw down public funding.
This is the critical factor for me at the heart of a qualifications strategy for the sector, given the current direction of public funding via Skills Funding Agency.
NOCN remains very keen to work through the detail of this with STS and other partners, and as Christine has clarified, has a third sector rep on its panel that is looking at all of our qualification proposals, not simply those directly relating to the third sector.
Hope this provides some reassurance and look forward to an increased dialogue.Posted by keith on 28 July 2010 08:18 AM
I do apologise if you feel that I misrepresented you, Keith, and I don’t think there is criticism of the NOCN in this Forum, either.Posted by Christine on 28 July 2010 10:05 AM
Those who have posted are concerned about the general focus on large ‘bites’ of qualifications and the difficulty for VCS organisations in delivering these in a way that makes them accessible to workers who aren’t able to take time away from their desks.
The NOCN is a business - like every other Awarding Body - and has to focus on its own sustainability in difficult times. I think we all understand that. Guy’s OCN YHR project led a regional group to break down larger units into ‘bitesize’, single credit units and then to pilot delivery - so I’m well aware that the OCN understands the delivery issues being discussed here. The VCS struggles to find a voice and influence qualification development because, without a significant history of delivering vocational qualifications to workers, it’s difficult to demonstrate demand.
Thanks Christine and no offence taken I assure you. As I hope I indicated in my previous post if there is a common agenda of developing bite sized awards that will be able to be genuinely taken up in sufficient volume by the sector let’s sit down and work up the strategy. NOCN would be keen.Posted by keith on 28 July 2010 10:58 AM
Display: No older posts | No newer postsStart a new topic