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A new suite of Competence based Maritime Qualifications for Scotland? Background: This year, the Maritime Skills Alliance (MSA) developed a UK wide Qualifications Strategy for the Maritime Sector. The vision set out in the Strategy is to develop qualifications frameworks which: o Provide clear career pathways which are both attractive to new entrants o Enable the existing workforce to develop their skills; o Incorporates regulatory requirements within qualifications thereby encouraging take-up; o Link private and public training to national qualifications frameworks; o Bring together common needs from across the sector, thereby making qualifications and training provision more economically attractive and enabling greater transferability across the sector; o Allow employers to have confidence in the skills that recruits have (i.e. qualifications are a recognised currency). The introduction of new qualifications frameworks for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and the demise of NVQs provided an ideal opportunity to take the first steps to implement the vision set out above. A new suite of credit-based qualifications has been developed, with full industry support, covering a wide spectrum of seafaring and water related occupations. MSA attention is now focused on the needs of the sector in Scotland. Current Position: Over 20 different SVQs were developed to cover the needs of sector in Scotland and to provide equivalence with NVQs that were available in the remainder of the UK. However take up of these qualifications has not been high and with the development of a new Merchant Navy Officer Trainee route using an NC and HNC/D it has fallen even further. Consequently nearly all SVQs have now lapsed, with the exception of Sea Fishing related SVQ that forms part of a Modern Apprenticeship Framework, and this will lapse on 31 March 2011. There is therefore an urgent need to consider whether to replace the SVQs for which there is an identified demand or to look using the Maritime Studies suite as Competence based Qualifications (CBQs) that mirror those available to the rest of the UK. The Maritime Studies suite: These qualifications are based on current National Occupational Standards. Employer representatives from the parts of the sector to which they relate and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency have been closely involved in their development, thus ensuring that they do meet industry needs and reflect the international regulatory requirements. A summary of the qualifications developed and which are available in the rest of the UK is attached. They have simplified the previous structure by using a mandatory core of units supplemented with those that offer specialist pathways; thereby aiding progression and transfer across the sector. It also reduces the number of separate qualifications, which become subsumed within one overarching framework containing the various pathways The proposal: The Maritime Studies suite should be used as the basis for creating a new suite of CBQs for use in Scotland, thereby providing equivalence across the whole of the UK.
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