IMechE warns against work-based learning snobbery

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers believes that snobbery regarding the government's new work-based qualifications could deepen the current national skills crisis

This week's decision to allow selected companies, including FlyBe and Network Rail, to award their own qualifications has been met with a mixed reaction. But with UK businesses facing a dramatic shortage in qualified engineers the IMechE welcomes the prospect of recognition for work-based learning.

Chris Kirby, head of education at the IMechE, said: "There has traditionally been an element of snobbery regarding the difference between national qualifications and company training schemes and as a result the valuable training given to engineering staff in the workplace is not widely recognised.

"It is unhelpful to label these accredited company training schemes as 'dumbed down' versions of the existing national qualifications.

"Traditional academic qualifications are important, but the workplace plays an equally important role in developing competent engineers, so it makes good sense to award working engineers a nationally recognised qualification that reflects their ongoing development.

"Giving engineers recognition for the skills they develop at work can only help make the sector more attractive to talented and motivated people. Bearing in mind the reported skills shortage in engineering, this must be seen as a positive step."

The government has made it clear that a strong supply of engineers is essential if UK businesses are to continue to have the capability to innovate. However, areas such as the North East are projected to face shortages of up to 20,000 engineers by 2014 and a recent study has highlighted that 70 per cent of young people aged 16-19 do not even know what engineering is.

Image: The IMechE has voiced concern over the UK Government's accredited company training scheme

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