How NVQs ignore the future

April 28, 1995

It is all very well for a director of standards of the Law Society (John Randall, THES April 14) to recommend NVQs, when to be a good lawyer it is only essential to conform with current practices. But in fields like education and engineering the aim must include the need to innovate.

Our current teaching methods are a matter of serious concern as they allow our standards in literacy, science and mathematics to fall so dramatically that it must be a bad idea to perpetuate them by enshrining them in NVQs. Similarly, in engineering and manufacturing, where innovation is essential for prosperity, it makes no sense to award NVQs at the higher levels for no more than current "competences". Understanding in modern technology at these levels must extend far beyond that required to underpin current practice if responsible innovation (i.e. not just trial-and-error) is to be possible.

While NVQs may enable us to deal with yesterday's problems, and even with some of today's, they leave us helpless when faced with tomorrow's. We will find we have created a "third-world workforce" rather than the intended "world-class workforce".

J. J. SPARKES Sheethanger Lane, Hemel Hempstead Herts

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