Advantages Something many people have to do, can be a useful stepping stone.
Disadvantages Far too much complex paperwork for a vocational qualification, lack of support.
The reasons for doing the National Vocational Qualifications or NVQ are vast and wide-ranging. NVQ's are becoming a vital part of the workplace particularly in the manufacturing and service sectors were they are slowly becoming a prerequisite before starting work in such fields.In my field, the health profession 50% of care assistants/nursing auxiliaries etc were supposed to have their NVQ 2 in care by the end of 2005. There are several reasons why this became an impossibility and the date is being forever changed. The NVQ is a relatively new qualification and was seen by the government as a long-term replacement for the BTEC and City and Guild qualifications. However, the qualification has been and continues to be greeted with a mixture of apathy and scorn by both employees and employers and there are many reasons for this.
The NVQ is described as a vocational qualification to be completed in the workplace. You are assigned an assessor who can either be shipped in from an external body such as a college or has been trained as an NVQ assessor by the workplace. The idea is that your assessor observes your work and documents how you behave, be it towards your clients/service users in the care sector, customers in the retail sector etc. They also observe your working practices to ensure you carry out your designated tasks correctly and according to the procedures set out by your workplace and external bodies such as environmental health. Examples of this in my case this would be observing me feed a resident or administer medication. However, this element of the course is fine for most people but it is the "evidence" element that makes these work-based qualifications the scourge of many an employees and employers lives.The NVQ level 2 in Care is the perfect example of this. Made up of four core units covering diversity and rights, communication, health and safety and abuse and a further five units of the employees own choosing from eating and drinking to continence control the employee is expected to write detailed accounts to cover the criteria of the units. Not only are they expected to write step by step accounts of, "How they take Mrs X to the toilet ensuring privacy and dignity by shutting the door..." they must then mark their own work using the criteria supplied. This is a ridiculously complicated process that takes longer than writing the actual piece or "reflective account" as they are called. Add to this the need for "witness testimonies" from Supervisors or Line managers supporting your abilities and what you have is a vocational qualification that is bogged down in paperwork and bureaucracy.
The problem with the NVQ is not the content that in my experience is relevant to the occupation but the way in which the pill is administered. Imagine this. You are a fifty-year-old care assistant who has been told they need to do an NVQ. It has been a number of years since you have written anything approaching an essay style piece and you are confronted with this mound of paperwork and the possibility of needing to attend college for extra assistance.
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