The Hospitality sector represents the largest and fastest growing industry in Europe as well as in the United Kingdom. The effectiveness of those holding National Vocational Qualifications (NVQ) in employment will probably have a significant impact on the business efficiency of the organisations employing them, furthermore the educational values associated with a workforce trained via NVQs could effect attitudes not only to work but to society as a whole. The issue of how effectively a significant section of the U.K. population is educated and/or trained through NVQ's is therefore likely to have economic as well as social consequences.
A National Vocational Qualification is defined as a statement of competence, issued to an individual by an awarding body, relevant to work and intended to facilitate entry into, or progression in, employment and further learning. The statement of competence should incorporate specified standards in the ability to perform a range of work-related tasks and the underpinning skills, knowledge and understanding required for performance in employment.
NVQs contain a set of common principles these are: specification in terms of outcome, their unit base; facilities for credit accumulation and design for accessibility to assessment by individuals. By design they emphasise contents and outcomes not structures and delivery and as a result a variety of approaches have been developed individually by colleges and training providers.
NVQ's in many craft subjects are now prevalent and the debate that the NVQ philosophy has engendered is likely to have considerable influence on people's attitude towards education and industrial training.
NVQs have within the short time since their conception in 1988 become the dominant force in Hospitality and Catering Craft Training and Education. For several decades up to the early 1990s Hospitality and catering education was dominated by catering colleges delivering City and Guild qualifications. These have now been wholly superseded by N.V.Q. though City and Guilds are still an awarding body.
The writer is currently employed as assessor and Center contact for a training company delivering mainly N.V.Q.'s in the Catering and Hospitality section and also works part-time in a Catering and Hospitality Section and at a Tertiary College. The writer has observed different approaches and attitudes between the workplace and colleges. Within different colleges themselves differences are also observable.
The future decades are perceived by government and academic research as a time leisure time, demand for tourism and accommodation, desire to eat and drink out and demand for residential, welfare and health care continues to grow dramatically. As Virginia Bottomley observed:
"Tourism and hospitality already make a massive contribution to our economic and social well being and the potential for growth is exciting. Last year four out of every ten new jobs created were in tourism and hospitality occupations. Forecasts indicate direct employment in the industry will increase by 400,000 over the next ten years" (Bottomley 1996).
Attitudes and approaches adopted toward NVQ delivery vary significantly at the moment. Although well established in a sense there appear to be some problems with both the narrow competence based philosophy and the implementation.
In hospitality and catering the standards for all qualifications have been altered once in 1996 and again in February 1999. These changes represent the continuing difficulties encountered by awarding and assessing bodies and attempts by NCVQ and QCA to make the qualifications more relevant.
Reports have indicated that awareness and uptake of NVQs in the hospitality industry has been relatively low compared to other sectors. NVQs have been perceived as being bureaucratic and time consuming and there is some doubt that they meet the exact needs of employers. Training for all staff has been most likely in certain segments of the Catering and Hospitality industry namely contract and in-house. The high levels of staff turnover, low status of certain jobs, and the informal nature of much training is currently the focus for much self examination in both the industry and education. Initiatives are now underway or in the planning stages to address these problems.
Funding considerations and demands of students in college provision appears to be more important than industry needs with Higher Education provision being generally more popular. NVQ courses are generally under-subscribed particularly at levels 3 and 4. As discussed later these problems appear to have come about as the result of lack of interest in the industry, lack of financial support for students and competition from other training providers
The involvement of OHMCI in quality assessment in colleges is well established and the quality of provision in colleges has been assessed as generally one with shortcomings. The vast majority of colleges scoring below grade 2, that is good features and no major shortcomings. Training providers will now also be subjected to OHCMI assessment and this will bring into consideration aspects of teaching and learning and broadness of "curriculum" which has up to now not been the focus of these providers.
National Vocational Qualifications were introduced to provide qualifications to people of all ages by the establishment of industry wide standards in assessment, be they students and trainees or existing employees whose prior learning could be accredited. However the direction of Training and Education seems unclear and the relationship between these and assessment is unspecific. The writer is interested in examining the relationship between the differing attitudes and approaches because of the impact this is having on existing and future delivery of Catering and Hospitality Education and Training.
The scope of the dissertation has been geographically limited to Wales so that the research can be more focused and because the writer is based in Wales.
Within the context of a European setting and with particular emphasis on Wales the aims of this study are to identify key features of teaching and learning delivery as applied in this context and evaluate the effectiveness of these. Compare the assessment methods between workplace training and college education. Examine different attitudes of students, employers, teachers and trainers and make a comparative analysis. Evaluate the strengths and shortcomings of NVQs in the past and likely developments in the future.