Competition and the council

February 16, 1996

The article, "Mexico signs training deal", describing the British Council's successful sale of National Council of Vocational Qualifications' material there and elsewhere (THES, February 2), made interesting reading. It was quite correctly stated that NVQs are "much maligned" in this country, and the reason for this is that they have failed spectacularly to achieve any of the objectives for education and training originally set out for them.

The only reason they exist now is because of naive and misguided Department for Education and Employment support that ensures that rigged funding mechanisms favour NVQ/GNVQ outcomes. They have brought precious few benefits for employers, employees, or vocational courses and, without the successful lobbying of the industrial trainers and the growing army of NCVQ training consultants, the qualifications would have disappeared long ago.

In view of the spate of recent reports and studies criticising NCVQ approaches - Smithers, Capey, Beaumont and the Institute of Employment Studies - the export of such flawed goods to overseas countries deserves to be ranked alongside the sale of western television soap operas to impoverished third world countries for its sheer breathtaking audacity.

Terry Hyland Department of continuing education University of Warwick

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