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Master-plan for NVQ and SVQ reform to be unveiled

The master-plan for a revolutionary raft of 16 new vocational qualifications in food manufacturing will be unveiled to employers at a major event in Leeds on 6 July.

Improve, the sector skills council for food and drink manufacturing, will pull the wraps from the new framework for National and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (NVQs and SVQs) in Food Manufacture. At Level 2, replacing existing qualifications like those in meat and poultry, bakery, and general food and drink manufacturing, will be a new matrix of units of competence that can be combined to create any of 10 different pathways to a universally recognised NVQ or SVQ in Food Manufacture.

The pathways, which will be identified in the title of the qualification, range from those that are sub-sector-specific, such as meat and poultry processing or craft bakery, to those that are function-specific such as production control or distribution. Such is the flexibility of the new qualifications that even within a single pathway there will be multiple choices of units that can be combined to build the qualification using a pick-and-mix approach.

At Level 3, there will be six different pathways to the NVQ or SVQ, again with the selected pathway recognised in the title of the qualification. Awarding bodies are now developing the new qualifications, with the first of them expected to be available from September. In future more pathways and units will be added to the framework to encompass more sub-sectors within food and drink manufacturing, and more functions.

The reforms are central to the long-awaited Qualifications Framework for Food and Drink Manufacturing, which Improve is launching at the Leeds event. Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve, said: “The launch of the Qualifications Framework is a crucial milestone for our mission to ensure that training and qualifications are designed to meet the needs of the sector.

“The tireless work that went into researching and devising the National Occupational Standards for food and drink manufacturing formed the back-bone of this framework, which will now allow employers the flexibility they have wanted for so long. The system of accumulating units of learning is important because it recognises the limitations on study time available to those in employment.

“The benefits overall will be enormous. Learning providers can now very easily expand their offering to employers, leading to an increase in the take-up of learning opportunities, and an increase in the rate of successful completion of qualifications, which should lead to an increase in performance and profitability throughout the sector.

“But this is only the beginning, because now that we have the framework in place we can go on to expand the range of pathways and the choice of units of learning, creating clearer and more accessible routes to success. The framework will also become one of the key structures to help shape the work of our new National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing.”

Employers attending the event at Leeds, which is called Pick your Mix, will be given a demonstration of a new electronic tool that Improve plans to put online to help compile the most appropriate pathways for learners. By answering a series of questions about job roles and learning needs, the tool will recommend the best pathway and the most suitable combination of units. Employers wanting to attend should book their places by contacting Sally Jenkins at Improve on 0845 644 0448 or email sally.jenkins@improveltd.co.uk.

Improve is one of 25 sector skills councils established by the government to take the lead in driving up skills in the workplace in order to promote higher productivity and stronger competitiveness for UK businesses in the global market. Funded primarily by the government, sector skills councils are also supported by employers in their sectors, whose needs they represent when stimulating change among the providers of education and skills. Sector skills councils work closely with employers to promote greater commitment to improving skills in their workforces, and with schools, colleges, universities, and private training organisations to improve the provision of basic skills training and to make vocational and occupational training more relevant to the modern commercial climate.

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