The National Council for Vocational Qualifications has been given the go-ahead for an unprecedented Pounds 9 million NVQ marketing push over the next three years.
Until now, the NCVQ, the Government body charged with the task of introducing the vocational qualifications system, has not been given the brief to market NVQs. But over the last year, the Department of Employment has come under increasing pressure to give the NCVQ adequate funding for a concerted marketing effort.
NCVQ chairman Mike Heron has highlighted the importance of marketing, and in June last year the Confederation of British Industry called for the NCVQ to be given a wider marketing role after employers argued that NVQs had been "poorly communicated and promoted". The Competitiveness White Paper promised that "local and national promotion to employers will be improved", and the employment department has now accepted the NCVQ's proposal to market the competence-based vocational qualifications, although funding details still have to be finalised.
The publicity drive, which will be launched in April, will aim "to increase understanding and the penetration of NVQs in the marketplace", according to the NCVQ's marketing director Marie Taylor. She said she still gets asked "what's the difference between a City and Guilds and an NVQ". The council will promote NVQs "as a brand", and plans a series of roadshows and a nationwide publishing effort. Employers will be targeted, and the council said that NVQs would be more clearly linked to business needs. Also, individuals would be informed of the flexibility of the system which allows candidates to complete units rather than the whole qualification.
A national helpline will be established, as well as a catalogue of guidance material for assisting employers and others to market NVQs.
An expanded NCVQ communications department will also ensure that those promoting the qualifications are "better briefed, better guided and better updated".