The council charged with introducing national vocational qualifications has introduced heavily revised guidelines as a response to Government calls "to get NVQs right".
John Hillier, chief executive of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, said that the original guidelines, introduced in 1991, "needed revision".
The new NVQ Criteria and Guidance, which is primarily directed towards NVQ lead bodies and the awarding bodies, deals with some of the criticisms which James Paice, employment minister, said "must not be dismissed". These include concerns that the qualifications should be measuring the right skills, knowledge and understanding; that the assessment methods do not match the task; and that the assessments lacked consistency and rigour.
Mr Paice said: "I shall be watching closely to make sure the guide is proving to be the basis for an NVQ system of the highest quality, taken up by employers and individuals."
The NCVQ, as well as assessing the top 100 NVQs, has to bring all existing qualifications under review by April 1996. The NCVQ will itself be subject to a quinquennial review by the employment and education departments.
John Randall, chairman of the working group which produced the guidelines, said that they aimed to establish flexibility in design, secure knowledge and understanding, and pave the way for higher level NVQs.
Mr Paice said that he wanted to see greater interaction between degrees and NVQs. "I would like universities to see NVQs as part and parcel of their overall programme," he said.