All change...

21st Sep 2011

Well, it’s been a while coming (a bit like my 2nd blog entry!) but things have changed considerably in terms of the structure and funding of vocational qualifications within the social care sector.  I guess you could say we’ve had it easy over the past couple of years, with many companies offering pre-funded NVQs at Level 2 and 3.

The first significant change is that NVQs are no more!  Qualifications previously known as NVQ Levels 2 and 3 are now QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework) Diplomas (Levels 2 & 3).  The QCF is the new way of recognising achievement - through the award of credit for units and qualifications - across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  In many respects it’s not radically different from the NVQ approach but there are some significant differences:

  • Successful candidates are awarded a Diploma at Levels 2, 3 and beyond
  • The qualifications are based on credits rather than units
  • In health and social care it offers 3 distinct pathways: Generic, Dementia and Adults with Learning Disabilities

The ‘Adults with Learning Disabilities Pathway’ is naturally of particular interest to us as an organisation and it is great to know that staff will be getting specific training relating to the people we  support as part of their vocational qualifications.

In some ways no less significant are the changes to funding.  It should come as no surprise that in times of recession, tighter conditions are placed on accessing government funded training and in August this year, new funding guidance was published by the Skills Funding Agency.

It is likely that wholly government funded training may only be accessed by very few from this point onwards.  Accessing funding and the percentage of that funding will depend on a whole number of factors including age and prior academic achievement.  It may still be the case that an 18 year old candidate may get full funding.  However, it may well depend on how well they did at school.  For example, 5 GCSEs at A-C Grade are considered equivalent to a Level 2 qualification and therefore someone with these qualifications will not attract full funding for the Level 2 Diploma.

However, all is not lost!  As long as we maintain information on the NMDS-CS database and maintain partnership agreements with our local funding partners for TIS funding, we will be able to claim back up to £10 for each successfully completed credit which to a large extent, if successful, will cover the majority of the costs to the company.

So, in conclusion, here are some key implications:

  • As an employer we must obtain education and training histories for all staff
  • All home managers must maintain and regularly update their NMDS-CS information
  • All funding partnership agreements must be maintained (some require annual renewal) and claims for credits must be made in accordance with the local partnership agreement in a consistent and timely manner
  • We will insist all staff access the ‘Adults with Learning Disabilities Pathway’ to ensure we enhance the services we provide
  • We must liaise closely with QCF Diploma providers to ensure we are getting the best service and maximum funding for our staff