Achievement of NVQs

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment and Learning – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 30 September 2002.

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Photo of Gerry McHugh Gerry McHugh Sinn Féin 3:15, 30 September 2002

18. asked the Minister for Employment and Learning to detail the achievement rate for NVQs in each of the last 3 years.

(AQO 222/02)

Photo of Carmel Hanna Carmel Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party

The NVQ achievement rate in the Jobskills programme is measured on a cohort basis, namely young people who enter Jobskills between 1 April each year and the following 31 March. The NVQ achievement rates for 1998-99 were 41% at level one and 49% at level two; for 1999-2000 they were 46% at level one and 51% at level two; and for 2000-01 it was 21% at level one. There is only one figure for 2000-01 because the Department looked at the key skills together.

Photo of Gerry McHugh Gerry McHugh Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for her answer. Those achievement levels could be improved. Does the Minister have any innovative ideas to improve the grades? Levels one and two were mentioned, but many jobs in the higher sector of industry require level three. What is the possibility of increasing rates of achievement at level three?

Photo of Carmel Hanna Carmel Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party

I do not think that that is a problem. The problem is that those at key skills levels one and two are sometimes having difficulties caused by the requirement since 1999 for trainees to attain both an NVQ and the specified key skills. Although there has been an improvement in the key skill achievement rates, it is recognised that the recent introduction of the external test in key skills has exacerbated the problem for some young people. I have asked departmental officials to consider how the difficulties presented by key skills might best be addressed and to submit proposals for dealing with young people who are not ready to undertake a full framework.

We are doing better than Great Britain, but the NVQ rate has been somewhat depressed. Some school leavers are already demotivated and are not comfortable to be back in the classroom. The Department for Employment and Learning wants to get the balance between the essential key skills — which are set by employers — and the NVQ level.