A fully-fledged inspectorate for monitoring standards in workplace vocational qualifications is to be established next April by the National Council for Vocational Qualifications.
The NCVQ is currently working out the final details of an Employment Department-funded scheme which will be formally unveiled in January 1995. It is designed to meet the requirements of local quality assurance laid down in the Government's Competitiveness White Paper published last May.
About 30 inspectors will be appointed to monitor the delivery of national vocational qualifications, the workplace competence-based assessments which are undertaken in more than 20,000 local centres around the country.
The council said the inspectors will probably be locally based, and the cost of the inspectorate will be a "pretty significant amount".
The Government allocated more than Pounds 300 million in the White Paper for vocational education and training reforms.
The exact role of the inspectorate has yet to be defined, but the NCVQ revealed that "it will collect data and feed it back through the local quality assurance system". Findings will be published "so awarding bodies and everyone else knows what's going on". It admitted there was "a need to demonstrate that there is quality in the NVQ system". The NCVQ's full review of the NVQ system is expected in February 1995.
The inspectorate will be an extension of the monitoring system that awarding bodies have already established.
The council said: "It won't be a secret mafia and there won't be a heavy-handed knocking on the door." A spokesman for the Business and Technician Education Council, one of the awarding bodies, which has 1,400 external verifiers, said: "We are confident that our external verifiers are doing a thorough job, but we welcome any institution which further enhances the esteem and credibility of vocational qualifications."