A major shake-up of qualifications for people wishing to pursue careers in health, social care and childcare is announced today.
A suite of up to 20 new qualifications will replace more than 240 existing ones in the biggest changes to qualifications ever seen in the sector in Wales.
The new qualifications will be taught from September 2019, with the first certificates awarded in 2020.
It follows a review published in 2016 by independent regulator Qualifications Wales into one of the largest employment sectors in Wales.
Following a procurement exercise to select an awarding body the regulator announced today that contracts have been awarded to a consortium of City & Guilds and WJEC. The consortium will work with Qualifications Wales, Social Care Wales, NHS Wales, teachers, trainers and assessors to design and deliver these new qualifications.
“These changes are amongst the most substantial ever seen in the vocational qualifications system in Wales,” said Chief Executive Philip Blaker.
“We are addressing the issues highlighted in our review. The new qualifications will be introduced with the full support of our partners who have a wealth of knowledge about the needs of employers, and the people they provide care for.
“The current qualifications are provided by 21 different bodies so moving to one awarding consortium will make career planning and progression routes clearer and more straightforward.”
The sector includes many different careers, including those providing care in hospitals, childcare, residential homes for adults and children, and at home.
“The number of people employed in this sector in Wales runs into the tens of thousands. These workers care for some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and need to be properly trained and assessed,” said Mr Blaker.
“That’s why we decided to make the review into qualifications in this sector a priority when we started work two years ago.
"We are pleased to award the contract and begin the development work with City & Guilds and WJEC who provided strong proposals for engaging and challenging new qualifications. I’m convinced that the future workforce in health, social care and childcare in Wales will be very well qualified.”
Sarah McCarty, Director of Improvement and Development at Social Care Wales, said: “We are pleased to be working in partnership to make sure qualifications meet the needs of learners and employers, but, most importantly, the thousands of individuals and families who rely on care and support every day right across Wales. It is vital we have a range of qualifications that are fit for the future, to support a skilled and confident workforce.
“Listening to the views of those involved in social care has been vital in getting us to this point. This will continue over the next 12 months so that the new qualifications meet the needs of the sector over the next five years and are in-line with the principles of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act.
“We have already been able to respond to feedback from the sector to, for example, strengthen qualifications around induction, work with children and young people, and management.”
WJEC Chief Executive Gareth Pierce said: “We recognise the importance of providing the finest qualifications for Wales to be able to support future development in the health, social care and childcare sectors. The initiative will have an impact, both socially and economically, and we’re delighted to be a leading part of it.”
Kirstie Donnelly, Managing Director of City & Guilds, added: “We are absolutely delighted to have won this bid in collaboration with WJEC.
“We believe we were successful because we demonstrated that we share one common vision – to deliver better care for Wales. We will now be collaborating with key stakeholders to develop the suite of qualifications that truly meets the needs of employers and the wider community in Wales.”
What do the changes mean?
The new qualifications will be taught to learners aged 14 and upwards across Wales from September 2019. The suite of up to 20 qualifications, from Level 1 to 5, are designed to reduce complexity, raise quality and increase coherence in the sector.
The new qualifications will only be provided by the City & Guilds and WJEC consortium. This means they will be the only ones eligible for funding on programmes of learning funded by the Welsh Government and local authorities. The NHS will also be funding parts of their workforce to undertake these qualifications.
From September 2019, these will be the qualifications that feature in apprenticeship frameworks for learners of all ages undertaking related apprenticeships.
Learners who register for study on or after 1 September 2019 will take one of the new qualifications, which will replace 243 existing ones.
The current qualifications will continue to be funded until the new qualifications are introduced. There will also be a transition period to allow learners who are on existing courses to complete their qualifications.
Further details of the steps taken during the review and the implementation of its recommendations, along with frequently asked questions about the new qualifications, can be found on the Qualifications Wales website.