The quango charged with introducing vocational qualifications has rejected claims by a Lords Government spokesman that the GNVQ for manufacturing has been poorly targeted.
Lord Lucas, Government spokesman on education in the Lords, said that the manufacturing GNVQ is "the runt of the litter", saying "it has not done as well as the other qualifications".
He added that it has not been adequately targeted for the needs of industry. "If I were to hazard a guess as to its problems, I think that it has been directed a little astray from where it should have been and therefore has not proved as attractive to industry and people interested in industry as should have been the case."
The manufacturing GNVQ has not been successful. Recent figures show that only 1,172 pupils have registered for the qualification, less than 1 per cent of the 160,000 pupils working towards GNVQs. Of these, just 224 are preparing for the advanced level qualification, which is equivalent to two A levels.
But the National Council for Vocational Qualifications has said the reason behind the failure of the qualification is the fact that few schools and colleges offer it. A spokesperson said: "Schools and colleges don't have quite as good a grasp of the manufacturing GNVQ." The NCVQ said schools find it easier to transfer staff to other GNVQ subjects like business than to manufacturing, and it directly rebutted Lord Lucas's point, saying that "there is no evidence to suggest that it isn't being targeted properly".
In the light of the low registration figures, the council has created a special partnership with industry for promoting the manufacturing GNVQ. The group includes representatives from the Confederation of British Industry and Unilever. A package of reforms is being developed, and next month the NCVQ will publish a career booklet directed at pupils taking the qualification. The long-term aim is to have 7 per cent of the GNVQ cohort taking the manufacturing qualification by 1998, when there will be 15 subjects on offer as opposed to just eight.