* The Government introduced "beefed-up" criteria and a tougher quality code of practice for National Vocational Qualifications this week, in a bid to meet criticisms of the qualification.
Education minister Baroness Blackstone hailed the new NVQ criteria and Common Accord on quality assurance as "a foundation for further work on qualifications".
Ministers have also said that the new rules would "facilitate" the provision of higher level NVQs as part of higher education programmes, as suggested by Sir Ron Dearing.
The changes, drawn up by the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, meet recommendations set out in the Beaumont report two years ago, which highlighted "shortcomings which need addressing".
The new plans include greater independent assessment and registration of awarding bodies.
The changes will form the basis of NVQ accreditation by the new education super-quango, the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which has new statutory powers, when it begins work in October.
"These documents mark a move away from rigid prescription and bureaucratic procedures, giving awarding bodies more scope to develop robust assessment methods, and industry more flexibility to set occupational standards in language that people will understand," said Baroness Blackstone.