SVQ/NVQs in the commercial world

Being an HR business we’re very keen on staff development.  I mean, it would be a pretty poor show if we weren’t.

Now, we have a lady working in our office who looks after bookkeeping, finances, admin and a whole load of other things.  And, what’s more, she is really up for learning new stuff.

We were approached by a company that helps employees achieve Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs).  They’re called National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) down south, just so as we can say we’re different, when really we aren’t.

So we asked them in and suggested that our lady should be doing an SVQ level 4 in Business Administration.

‘Ah, we can’t do that for you unless you pay £1,500.  But there is government funding to do an SVQ level 3.’

I thought it looked a bit basic but, nevertheless, we agreed the programme and the lady fetched up to sort out which units were to be completed.

For those of you not in the SVQ/NVQ know, they’re work based qualifications which means that if you do something at work and provide evidence that you’ve done it, then you get the qualification.  For example, if one of the requirements for a unit is to write business focussed letters, you photocopy a letter you’ve written, put it in your file and Robert’s your uncle, you’ve got the evidence.

Now, we wanted our lady to start up some new projects, things she hadn’t done before, to help the business and, as she completed them, she’d get the credit for her SVQ.

But, no.

The lady from the company assessing the SVQ spent two hours with her working out what she’d done already and helping her find the evidence so she could get signed off.

In essence, the qualification became a tick box exercise with no value for anyone.

As a business we got nothing from it because the work had already been done and nothing new was going to be achieved.  Actually, it detracted from our business because it took a chunk of our lady’s time.

Oh, and she didn’t learn anything new, which was what she wanted to do all along, so she got nothing from it either.

The company assessing the SVQ didn’t get anything either.  They get paid by the government on completion and our lady was so disillusioned she decided to pack it up.

I have to say, this prompted a meeting with the assessors and when we explained our rationale they didn’t get it.  Well, not until we explained it to them in words of one syllable, then they kind of cottoned on.

The thing is, they should have more commerciality themselves and recognise what these qualifications could do for employees and businesses.  Their approach did one thing only… down valued the SVQ.

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