Coronavirus update for customers

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Coronavirus update for customers

Operational Update on NOCN Group Qualifications and Services

NOCN Group offers a wide range of services including regulated qualifications, EPA for apprenticeships, Job Cards in construction, Access to HE Diplomas, bespoke accreditation and educational and skills support training.

You will find out more operational detail on the implications of COVID19 for each of these services, including advice for students and centres preparing for external assessments, through the following links:

Please note that NOCN will be following the guidance issued by the ESFA, IfATE, Ofqual, CCEA, QAA and Qualifications Wales, and will update our customers as things change.

If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the impact on your centre, apprentices or learners please contact us on or 0300 999 1177 (Option 1).

Working to support our valued customers

You will be aware of the various Government and World Health Organisation (WHO) announcements and official advice over COVID19.
The situation is unprecedented and has been continually changing. With colleges and schools now closed and the country in effect ‘locked down’, other than essential services, we will endeavour to continue to support you, your apprentices, learners and card applicants through this difficult period.

We support Ofqual’s statement that the most important principle is fairness to all learners and apprentices, not only for those being assessed now, but also for those assessed before COVID-19.

Centre Support

All our staff are working from home, so we are still offering front line support, through telephony, email and web chat as usual.
Certificates for regulated qualifications and cards are being issued to centres in the normal way.
We aim to provide as full a range of our services as possible, where these can be delivered remotely, and we can use remote or recorded assessment methods, whilst maintaining the integrity of the assessment.
All face-to-face appointments for approval visits, External Quality Assurers, and external assessments have been suspended until training centres reopen and normal business resumes.
We are providing digital on-line support, including offering WebEx interviews, developing online invigilated exams in place of physical papers, and digital content support.

Please contact us to discuss how best we can support you on or 0300 999 1177 (Option 1).

Best wishes from all at NOCN to you our valued customers. We hope you all remain safe and well.

Graham Hasting-Evans, Group Managing Director

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Growing education and skills exports internationally – when is it time to get on the plane?

Blog by Graham Hasting-Evans, Group Managing Director, NOCN

I first went to work abroad in Denmark when I was 19 years old. Since then I’ve worked in over 10 countries in Africa, Americas, Asia, Europe and Middle East. So getting on ‘the plane’ to ‘commute’ for work is not exactly new to me.

In a post-Brexit world, Government is expecting more of us to do just that. The UK Government’s “International Education Strategy global potential, global growth”, published in March 2019 sets out the ambition for the UK increasing its sales of ‘education’ and ‘skills’ products and services in a number of key markets. In this document the Government has identified it wants to grow education exports to £35 billion by 2030. It has prioritised resources to support key geographic regions such as China/Hong Kong, ASEAN, Middle East/North Africa and Latin America.

The UK’s current technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system is subject to much criticism compounded by the fact that it seems every new Secretary of State feels they must at best tinker with it and at worst fundamentally restructure it. That said there is a lot that is good about our system and particularly the people who on a day-to-day basis deliver it. It is very well respected on a global scale. We should not down play just how competent, knowledgeable and experienced are the UK people working in colleges, training providers, universities, awarding and assessment organisations, publishers and equipment suppliers.

BUT, getting into new markets overseas is not an easy thing. Putting an ad in the ‘China Daily’ for students for your courses or qualifications will not work. Neither will be getting on a plane for the first time talking to a few people for a few days and flying back. You will not be coming back with a lucrative contract in your pocket.

Like any major business diversification into new markets, working abroad will take time. Most experienced business commentators will say that breaking into new overseas markets can take 4 to 7 years. It takes determination and patience.

You will need to research the regions, markets and countries who might want to buy from the UK and work out what you think you can offer them, which they will see is beneficial. In this respect you need to appreciate that every region and country will be different. They will not be like the UK and therefore what you offer in the UK is unlikely to work for them. However, an adaption of what you do might.

In the UK we are grouped into types of organisations which fit the UK system such as training providers and awarding bodies. This may not match the needs of another country. For example, a complete turn-key offer of build the centre, do the training and certify the qualifications may be required. Hence consortia and partnership many be the answer.

Challenges the individual country is trying to address can be radically different to that of the UK. In the UK we might be trying to increase the proportion of people with Level 4 and 5 qualifications, in a context of a highly structured skills eco-system. In other parts of the world they may be focusing on getting large numbers of people with no or few skills, possibly illiterate and lacking numeracy, into work in an environment of limited training capability and capacity.

There are also experienced competitors out there. Some of which, like Australians, will see the ASEAN region as ‘home turf’. Other competitors are the Canadians, Singaporeans, Germans, Danes and Swiss, as well as the ILO. They will base their offering on more stable, but perhaps older systems, generally lacking in higher and degree apprenticeship experience.

The Department of International Trade as well as other sector groups such as AoC and AeLP, provide excellent support.

If you are interested in exploring the opportunities abroad talk to people who know, start to do the analysis and planning and only then is it time to book your flights!