We were delighted to announce in May that a number of EAL qualifications now carry UCAS tariff points which meet Department for Education requirements and will count towards league tables and university entry.

This is a major milestone which gives many of our awards parity and context alongside academic achievement and allows our FE customers a much greater choice. EAL awards are much more flexible than those of other awarding bodies.  They provide a blended more vocational offer, that suits a wide range of learners, combining theory with practical application and a variety of assessment methods from online examinations to practical projects, which can be tailored to fit the needs of the training organisation and its learners.  Our qualifications have choice and flexibility to be delivered as standalone qualifications or alongside qualifications such as A-Levels and are suitable for all ages – from Key Stage 5 (16-18) to full-time adult learners.

 EAL prides itself on being ‘closer to industry’ and closer to education.

We are committed to investing in the industries that we serve as a specialist in advanced manufacturing, engineering and building services providing core sectors unrivalled knowledge and understanding of employers’ skills needs.  As a result EAL qualifications are designed and endorsed by employers to give learners and industry the edge by providing skills that deliver ‘employability’.

Qualifications are also included within apprenticeship frameworks too, offering greater flexibility on how they are delivered.  They could be delivered to apprentices alongside learners seeking employment in the sector. Once employed, the individual would only need to complete the additional components of the apprenticeship framework, such as competency-based elements to gain their full apprenticeship qualification.

The points will count towards league tables and give individuals access to higher education, an apprenticeship or further career development.  They will also allow employers, colleges and training providers to have more choice with the qualifications they can offer and buy.

It is an undeniable truth that despite best efforts, too many vocational qualifications continue to be considered secondary when placed alongside purely academic achievements.  Yet, the employers that we deal with daily, tell us that in many cases, acquiring strong vocational qualifications put candidates in a much better position than those who have studied traditional GCSEs, A-levels and degrees.

As I recently told the All Party Parliamentary Group for Apprenticeships – robust and validated qualifications are at the heart of the UK skills system.  Without properly certified qualifications, industry, learners and educators can only make an inspired guess as to how good any training regime might be.  The skills landscape is changing as fast now as it has ever done – and there are many questions to be answered – including, will Trailblazers include certified qualifications?

Having fought so hard to give learners, employers and the nation as a whole this milestone moment which pushes vocational pathways towards the parity they deserve - our efforts could be undone by such a decision.  All our intelligence, from learners and employers, is very clear – we are in danger of de-skilling the sector if we do away with qualifications in apprenticeships – we need to ensure skills are transferrable and quality is embedded.

The Industry Apprentice Council (IAC) – which EAL founded – has become the voice of apprentices across the country and is unequivocal about its support for the structure and certainty that qualifications bring.  Many of the employers that we work so closely with have told us in no uncertain terms the benefits that they bring – and the confusion that would be caused if the ‘skills compass’ were to be de-magnetised.  How would they ensure that standards wouldn’t slip? How could they judge whether new or existing employees were up to the mark?

EAL, along with other awarding organisations, has invested millions of pounds and many decades, ensuring that the system works.  It would be ludicrous that if just when we are beginning to achieve a semblance of parity, we rip up the rulebook and damage the system that is beginning to work so well.

This blog from Julia also featured in FE News.

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