Coronavirus update for customers

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Coronavirus update for customers

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.

As you will be aware the government imposed a third national lockdown from Tuesday 5th January 2021. You will find out more operational detail on the implications for each of these services through the following links:

Business Development
Regulated Qualifications
EPA for Apprenticeships
Job Cards in construction (CPCS)
One Awards

Please note that NOCN Group will be following the guidance issued by the ESFA, IfATE, Ofqual, CCEA Regulation, 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.

Further information:

Letter from Gavin Williamson CBE MP to Simon Lebus

Letter from Simon Lebus to Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP

DfE and Ofqual have launched two consultations (15th January):

GCSE, AS and A Level awarding in summer 2021

Alternative arrangements for the award of VTQs and other generals in 2021

Using Xbox to Access Online Learning

It is possible for learners to access their online work from home using a gaming console. For guidance on how to do this please download the document here.

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We need to rise to the challenge of Brexit

To rise to the challenge of a post-Brexit Britain, we need a clear, accessible skills system, says Graham Hasting-Evans.

If nothing else, Brexit has revealed that the need for reform of our skills system is long overdue and it's now imperative we deliver a step-change in productivity - as well as improvements in quality.

The National Audit Office’s (September report 'Delivering value through apprenticeship reform' stated bluntly:

“The Office of National Statistics estimates that Germany, France and the USA are each about a third more productive than the UK”.
Clearly reform is urgently needed.

Creditably, the government has been trying to deliver critical changes and has some excellent policy ideas. Its 25 October announcement on how the apprenticeship levy will work included welcome references to productivity and social mobility, as well as support for 16 to 18 year-olds and others with special needs.

But after years of effort we are woefully short of what's really needed. At the end of last month (September) 42 new apprenticeship standards were ready for delivery, with an Apprenticeship Assessment Organisation (AAO) appointed - against a likely need for 2,000 across the whole economy.

Based upon October’s statistics, there are 2,450 apprenticeships registered with an AAO appointed and 1,790 where there is no AAO.

Put this against an annual target for apprenticeship completions of 600,000 and the fact that reform of technical qualifications is not planned to start until 2018, and it's easy to see that despite excellent policy ideas and much effort, there is a long way to go.

There have also been significant implementation problems. We need to deal with these face-on and radically speed up progress.

The government is poised to embark on an initiative under the Post-16 Skills Plan to fundamentally change technical education and qualifications. Clearly we do not want this initiative to face the same problems encountered by reformed apprenticeships.

Put simply - productivity improvements must be a key outcome of all the reforms.

Consider this: each year we replace just over two per cent of the workforce through the education system while recruiting around 1.6 per cent through gross immigration, losing half of this through emigration.

It means at any point the vast majority of the productive workforce has been there for some while so investment focused on the education system, including reformed apprenticeships for young people and the Post-16 Skills Plan, is clearly long-term.

Plainly, if we are to achieve early benefits in productivity and social mobility we must invest in the existing workforce - through short-term investment in up-skilling, literacy, numeracy and management development as well as apprenticeships.

We must commit to a single skills enhancement strategy, underpinned by a single skills system, which embraces all the various initiatives, while ensuring integral productivity improvement and social mobility, including development for the existing workforce.

We must establish a complete list of apprenticeship standards and technical qualifications needed, based on real career pathways in our key sectors, which get people to a 'first-base job' from which they can develop. In other words we need to concentrate on producing the doctor, leaving the brain surgeon to develop as a specialist. Done well, it should mean we can cut the number of qualifications and apprenticeship standards to a more manageable number.

We also need to prioritise the apprenticeships and technical qualifications that will generate the biggest improvements in productivity and, as a matter of urgency, set up a single organisation that can drive through the changes. The government says this will be the Institute for Apprenticeships and it has published the Bill so it will become the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education.

If we get the skills enhancement strategy and underpinning system right, productivity and social mobility will rise - and that has to be a big step towards a successful economy.