Accountants and NVQs

December 18, 1998

Your item on the new vocational qualifications (THES, December 4) contained two false statements about national vocational qualifications that are commonly made and that do not assist efforts to develop understanding and acceptance of these qualifications.

First, assessment in the workplace is not mandatory in all NVQs. In a number of sectors (and accountancy is one), alternatives to workplace assessment (such as simulated activities) have been accepted as valid. The lead body for accounting (levels 2-4) recognises that many candidates are attracted to accounting NVQs as a means to gaining employment, career change or career progression. Such candidates are unlikely to have access to the full range of work experience required to demonstrate competence. With appropriate training, however, they can develop their skills and knowledge and satisfactorily measure their competence against occupational standards.

Second, it is suggested that NVQs are not recognised for access to the professions. Again, this is not true in accounting. Candidates completing the Association of Accounting Technicians's NVQs gain access to exemptions from all the chartered accountancy professional examinations.

In occupational sectors where NVQs are not restricted to the workplace, provide access to senior levels of the professions and have been implemented successfully and are well-established, the arguments for accrediting "other" vocational qualifications in the framework (whatever they may be called) do not apply.

Indeed, such action would cause confusion by adding a further unnecessary layer of qualifications, and would detract from the encouraging growth and success of NVQs.

In accounting, and I suspect other vocations, there is no justification for the accreditation of yet more qualifications.

Jeanette Purcell

Director of education and training Association of Accounting Technicians

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