Letter: Vocational courses are on target

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Sir: Your leading article (15 December) referred to research suggesting that new vocational qualifications (NVQs and GNVQs) lack academic rigour. It argued that if various trades had registration systems that required the new qualifications, young people would be more inclined to take such qualifications (and employers would treat NVQs more seriously).

One of the last acts of the former National Economic Development Office (NEDO) was to propose just such a scheme for the construction industry which, as anyone who has had dealings with it will appreciate, is greatly in need of a more skilled workforce. Nearly a year after NEDO's closure, construction employers and unions have just agreed on a registration scheme which will come into operation next year, to be phased in trade by trade. This follows the success of registration schemes for specific occupational groups in construction, notably for scaffolders and electricians, which have been shown to have improved standards and reduced accidents.

It is important to appreciate that such schemes will not have an overnight impact (there is a huge shortfall in skills to make up), but they will result in a better quality workforce. The example is there for other sectors to follow.

Yours sincerely,


London, SWll