The Engineering Diploma is a qualification to be championed, says NEF CEO
The Government’s review of vocational qualifications includes the Engineering Diploma in a list of around 3,000 qualifications which may not be recognised from September 2012. Creating qualifications for the sole reason of wanting to improve the league tables, but which in reality hold no credence with employers, colleges or universities is irresponsible. Learners are just wasting their time. However, vocational courses should be supported when they combine educational and economic value. The Engineering Diploma does just that, having been developed with industrialists in the last 5 years to match the skills learners and employers need. It provides robustness in delivery and contemporary, real and relevant curriculum, helping learners progress into further studies and gain a footing into a worthwhile career.
Course content of The Engineering Diploma is underpinned by academics and industrialists and is fit for purpose both economically and academically. It is not one of ‘worthless’ qualifications that Professor Wolf has described, and should not be treated as such.
The New Engineering Foundation advocates that the educational offer for 14-19 year-olds should lead young people to think and develop cognitive abilities. However, research suggests that cognitive abilities have been in decline as test scores have been rising. Clearly, a poor diet of ‘make-believe’ GCSEs or ‘dead-end’ vocational courses is not the remedy. The curriculum should reinforce the attributes and develop the abilities needed for success in life and work. This means the ‘soft skills’ for employability, and the sharper attributes for enterprise.
The key is to ensure that young people follow fewer, broader qualifications that equip them well, and in each case ‘inculcate ingenuity’. This is much easier if there is effective work in schools and colleges on careers, so that individuals can better plan their own paths from an early stage. By having robust, employer-valued vocational qualifications, parity of esteem with academic qualifications can be achieved.
We are lobbying to defend the Engineering Diploma and encourage individuals and organisations to support us. If you would like to add your voice to ours, please email me
Professor Sa'ad Medhat, Chief Executive, New Engineering Foundation
UPDATE: Professor Medhat's letter on this subject appeared in the London Evening Standard on Wednesday 1 February. You can view the Standard online here (registration required)