Specialist awarding organisation EAL has welcomed a review into adult qualifications, saying its close working relationship with the sectors it serves should be held up as an example of good practice.

The Adult Vocational Qualifications Review, carried out on behalf of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills by Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director at BAE Systems and UK Commissioner, was published today (Friday, 8th November).

EAL Managing Director Julia Chippendale said: “We fully support the Whitehead Review and EAL will play a crucial role in ensuring its recommendations are implemented. Adult vocational qualifications must work for businesses and the employees undertaking them if the skills gap is going to be closed – and we are fully behind any plans to ensure this is carried out.”

The UK aerospace industry, for example, is the second largest in the world and meeting their skills needs requires a specialist awarding organisation that understands their business requirements, Julia explained.

She continued: “The aerospace industry has long term business plans and order books that stretch 5, 10 and 15 years into the future, so as a specialist awarding organisation we can work with these employers to understand what their skills requirements will be and then develop qualifications to ensure these needs are met. Specialist awarding organisations are the way forward and I am delighted to see the Whitehead Review recognises this and calls for greater employer engagement.”

The Whitehead Review involved analysing the current system for vocational qualifications in England, to identify areas that require improvement and to make recommendations for reform, building on and celebrating what works. To achieve this, the report outlined seven practical steps:

1.    Better employer involvement with awarding organisations and providers.
2.    Focus on outcomes for more flexibility.
3.    New design principles for qualifications.
4.    Mandatory reporting on progression.
5.    Joined-up qualifications databases.
6.    Incentivised use of technology.
7.    Better employer input through industrial partnerships.

Ms Chippendale said: “The report puts specialist awarding organisations central to the future development of adult vocational qualifications in the UK. A focus on improving employer involvement with awarding organisations is number one on the report’s list to ensure that qualifications are relevant, rigorous and recognised.

EAL maintains a long-term partnership with industry, focussing on engineering and manufacturing, building services and related industry sectors, allowing us to build an unrivalled knowledge and understanding of employer skills needs. Furthermore, our Board comprises and is chaired by key employers from the industries we service, something we believe is vital for true employer leadership.

“We are very proud of our close working relationship with the employers and sectors we serve – and we now provide nearly three-quarters of all engineering related qualifications in the UK. Each of EAL’s team of External Verifiers (EVs) is a fully qualified, time-served professional in the sector they support – and this expertise ensures we can provide quality and relevance to our rigorous and nationally recognised qualifications.”

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