A summary of the group’s purpose and how it will work.
A key element of The Co-operation Agreement (2021) between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru to guide the work of the Welsh Government in the current Senedd is the commitment to review the vocational qualifications on offer to learners and employers in Wales. In the Co-operation Agreement the following objectives are stated:
Working together, we will lead the way by radically reforming qualifications, with a focus on experiences and well-being. We will match the ambition in Wales’s new curriculum with ambition in our reformed qualifications. We will significantly expand the range of ‘made in Wales’ vocational qualifications to fit the needs of our learners and our economy.
The need to begin this review in Spring 2022 and to consider the steps necessary to “significantly expand the range of made-in-Wales vocational qualifications” has been brought into focus by the decision of the Westminster Government to defund large numbers of level 2 and 3vocational qualifications by 2024 as part of the introduction of T’ levels in England.
The planned reduction in the number of vocational awards available in England is likely to affect all the nations of the U.K. as the cost effectiveness and commercial viability of some specific awards will be reduced if they are only available in one or more of the smaller nations of the U.K. This is problematic for three reasons. First, it will potentially impact on the availability of vocational qualifications required for important industries and occupations in Wales, e.g. avionics, childcare, cybersecurity, Fintech insurance, healthcare and social care. Second, the form of qualifications provided in the future may not as currently conceived by awarding bodies fit the requirements of Welsh apprenticeship frameworks or related work based training routes. Finally, we need to consider the implications of the changes on the availability of vocational qualifications delivered and assessed through the medium of Welsh.
Aims and objectives
The vocational qualifications review will have the following six objectives:
- To document and comment on the relevance and effectiveness of the vocational qualifications currently on offer in Wales at levels 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and identify priority areas for further action.
- Identify the best international models for vocational qualifications, including any recent trends and changes, and their suitability and applicability here, in particular in light of the ambitions and aims of the new Curriculum for Wales.
- To consider the impact of new T level qualifications on Wales and, the options, including alternatives, for learners in Wales.
- To consider work done by Qualifications Wales on ascertaining what current vocational qualifications awarding bodies in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are planning to do to alter the range of vocational qualifications they offer at levels 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 over the remaining four years of the current Senedd.
- To outline and evaluate the options for the Welsh Government, Qualifications Wales and vocational qualification providers in Wales in light of the likely changes identified under points 1 to 4 above.
- Make recommendations to Welsh Ministers and Designated Members for the form and timing of the significant expansion of “made in Wales” and “made for Wales” vocational qualifications over the period 2023 to 2026. This will include the additional resource and funding requirements to support any proposed changes.
Governance and organisation
The review of vocational qualifications will be overseen by a steering group chaired by a leader in the field based in Wales. The membership of the steering group will also include representatives from the following organisations:
- Colegau Cymru
- Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol
- Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
- Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB)
- Federation for Small Business (FSB)
- National Training Federation for Wales (NTfW)
- National Union of Students Wales (NUS Wales)
- Qualifications Wales (QW)
- University and College Union (UCU)
The work of the steering group will be reported and discussed at the Minister for Education and Welsh Language Policy Board and Strategy and Implementation Board. These reports will detail progress, issues and risks as well as future plans and prospects.
Schedule of work
The focus of the review of vocational qualifications will be five workshops at which Welsh Government officials and external experts will be invited to outline a summary of recent research on policy and activity in relevant areas, as well as facilitating discussion of the following questions.
- What vocational qualifications are on offer and used in Wales?
- What is the Westminster Government proposing for the reform of vocational qualifications in England?
- What are UK vocational qualification awarding bodies planning to do over the next four years to alter the pattern of vocational qualification provision in Wales?
- What options do the Welsh Government, Qualifications Wales and providers have to alter the vocational qualifications on offer in Wales? What options are available to significantly expand the volume and range of “made in Wales” vocational qualification opportunities? How will these best expand Welsh-medium provision? What are the best European models of vocational qualifications that Wales could consider adopting? What reforms are needed to match the ambition and values of Wales’s new curriculum?
- What steps should be taken to implement any changes to vocational qualification provision in Wales?
The secretariat for the work of the steering group and associated workshops will be provided by the Further Education and Apprenticeship Division (FEAD) within the Welsh Government.
A summary of the discussions and conclusions of the five workshops and deliberations of the Steering Group together with recommendations for the Welsh Government and Qualifications Wales will be produced by the secretariat and agreed by the Steering Group for publication and presentation to the Minister for Education and Designated Members in Spring 2023.