QCF Diplomas (NVQ) and Apprenticeships Comparison

QCF (NVQ) Diploma
Modern Apprenticeship
Totally In-House
Requires learning days off site
Aimed at experienced workforce
Aimed at unemployed

Uses real life evidence on a day-to-day basis – valuing and recognising an indivdual’s specialist knowledge, skills, ability, development and experience to provide an all-round holistic VOCATIONAL qualification

Compulsory completion of key skills (maths & English), Employer Rights & Responsibilities (ERR), Personal Learning & Thinking Skills (PLTS). Individuals are required to complete these areas (which are not OFSTED or Care Commission requirements) – regardless of previous learning and experience – which could devalue existing staff

Flexible Timetable – can be evidenced any time of day or night using work-based assessors
Strictly timetabled regarding term-times, enrolment and completion dates
Not funded – so does not require unnecessary paperwork or entry criteria (available to all experienced staff at any time)
Strict Funding restrictions apply – i.e. must be individual’s first qualification at that level. Must not be in full-time employment – unless changing job or role
Listed as a requirement in the National Minimum Standards of many Care Sectors e.g. Health Care, Residential Care Homes, Children’s Homes, Special Schools etc.
Modern Apprenticeships themselves are not listed as part of any National Minimum Standards Requirements
Paperwork is designed and customised to suit the needs of the individual, the workplace and the specialism
Paperwork is designed to meet the needs of the funding requirements
Does not require Candidates to be absent from the workplace at any time – and therefore no hidden expenses such as cover, time-owing and travel expenses
Requires attendance at an external site which could result in staff cover (for existing staff), time owing and travel expenses
The Diploma is a professional Qualification designed and produced by the relevant Skills Council to meet the needs of the workforce
The Modern Apprenticeship is a Government Scheme – which may or may not lead to a professional Qualification at the appropriate level
Available immediately – to start immediately or at any time to suit the work environment
Available through agents or “scheme providers” at certain times of the year

Many Organisations are under the impression that a Modern Apprenticeship is a QCF Diploma. This could not be further from the truth.

An Apprenticeship – introduced in good faith by the former Labour Government and continued by the new Alliance Government – was introduced to create meaningful employment for people who would otherwise be claiming unemployment benefit. This practice would allow young people to gain valuable experience in the workplace and take a first step on the employment ladder.

The target group was intended to be individuals who aspired to learn a “trade” – particularly those aged 19 – 25 years old.

This Scheme would be beneficial to unemployed youngsters and Companies/Organisations who wanted to recruit and develop a Qualified and knowledgeable workforce.

Where it appears to have gone wrong however – is that unemployment figures are not dropping. The main reason for that has been the recruitment of people already in employment accessing the scheme.

Benefactors of huge Government Grants (paid for through the taxes of ALL UK Citizens) have recruited and registered employed individuals in their droves – with the promise of free training and a Nationally Recognised Qualification.

Some may say that such individuals were benefitting from training and qualifications which would not otherwise have been made available to them – but in reality many have been subjected to Basic Skills Training (reading and writing – whether they needed it or not) because huge portions of the funding are weighted in this area.

The Diploma is seen as a secondary part of the Apprenticeship (an add-on if you like) – and even then it has often been offered at the wrong (lower) level for the Individual in order to meet funding criteria  purposes - not her/his work roll/skills/ability.

The recent Documentary – researched and presented by BBC1 Panorama Programme (Click Here to view) illustrated the extent to which the Apprenticeship Scheme (and funding) has been universally abused.

Major Corporations and Training Organisations were exposed for what could only be described as a huge misuse of Government (and Public) funds – and we can only hope and trust that those responsible are brought to task and that loopholes are closed with immediate effect.

It has become very apparent that QCF Vocational Diplomas (previously National Vocational Qualifications NVQ) have become an innocent victim in the above charade – and have suffered considerable damage through blatant devaluation and false representation.

QCF Vocational Diplomas are the nationally recognised Qualification developed and designed by Sector Skills Councils and representatives. They are also the benchmark and required Qualification for the National Minimum Standards of the Workforce. Their professional status deserves to be recognised and delivery needs to be open and transparent. The Diploma is vocational – and therefore should be evidenced in the workplace – candidates are not required to attend any outside training days or sessions. The knowledge base of the Diploma should complement and include guidelines, policies and procedures relevant to the workplace. Ideally the Work-Based Assessor should be a Senior Member of the workforce (who is familiar with all policies etc) – and is available at any time to mentor and assess the Candidate.

Visiting (peripatetic) Assessors have time and travel restrictions – and also are often unaware of the philosophy of a particular workplace. Their attendance can cause anxiety to candidates – making it impossible to carry out a “naturalistic observation” of their work and – more importantly – can cause severe “stranger” disruption with many specialist client groups.

You are advised and encouraged to ask as many questions as you wish to be sure you are getting the right guidance and Qualifications for your specialist workforce – rather than accepting schemes and generic qualifications to meet “funding circus” requirements.


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