In January, the government published its Skills for Jobs White Paper, setting out reforms to post-16 technical education and training which will help people develop the skills they need to get good jobs and improve national productivity. Responding to the White Paper, Global Tunnelling Experts UK Ltd managing director, Kevin Browning, urges Westminster to recognise the value of hands-on experience as well as that of written qualifications and suggests that the government considers introducing accreditation through proven past experience to get more skilled people into the workforce.
I am a believer that, rather than accreditation having to be earned from scratch, we can get skilled and semi-skilled people into work by means of accreditation through proven past experience.
This can be done through certified CVs and references. This practice is already used when service personnel leave the military to join civilian life. Many military qualifications gained by serving people are transferable within civilian life.
The way we are currently going about things, we are not only preventing many skilled civilian people from advancing their careers, but by doing so we are adding to the so-called skill shortage within our industries.
At the same time government is hell bent on providing educational skills to the youth and inexperienced. I am not suggesting for a moment that this is the wrong thing to do, but the point is that no amount of theory education can match two, three, four and ten years of practical education.
If we were to give by the end of March around 1,000 people an NVQ Level Three based on proven past experience, they would all be in better paid work, and in places where they could pass on their skills to others within the infrastructure industry, all in a very short time.
There are many recruitment companies currently operating in such a way that instead of employing skilled people they are turning them away because the recruitment consultant simply finds past hands-on experience irrelevant in the absence of an NVQ or similar.
This option I am suggesting should also be adopted when employing foreign specialists, there is no eighteenth edition qualifications outside the UK, but there is an equivalent. There is no NVQ either, but the work experiences should supersede it or at least equal it.
I am urging the relevant authorities to understand that, in order to fulfil their extremely ambitious infrastructure program, including HS2, Nuclear Power plants and more, we must take stock of the existing skilled workforce we have at our disposal properly. Furthermore, some good common sense must be allowed to prevail over the expensive unregulated situation that we as employers and employees find ourselves in currently.