Implementing NVQs in small and medium enterprises : the experiences of candidates, assessors and managers in small residential care homes in the independent sector.
The research study examines the implementation of National Vocational Qualifications
(NVQs) within small and medium enterprises. NVQs have been in existence for ten
years yet they continue to receive criticism from academic circles and implementation
by employers has been slow.
The small residential care sector was selected because it has many characteristics in
common with small businesses in general: the sector has grown because of recent care
legislation; it is dependent on larger local authorities for client referrals; it employs
mainly women on a part-time basis; and it lacks a traditional training pathway for
Using a qualitative, case study approach, seven workplaces were visited over the period
of a year. Candidates, assessors and managers were interviewed regularly to assess their
feelings and progress and to determine the factors which affected their experiences of
NVQ implementation. Four main areas were explored using a theme analysis
framework - progress, progression, standardisation and financial issues.
The findings indicated that implementation in small workplaces was problematic for all
involved. Unless a training culture was already in existence, insufficient resources were
provided to support and facilitate progress both physically and emotionally.
Consequently, assessors and candidates involved with NVQs were quite negative about
their experiences which reduced the value placed on the qualification by the participants
and their managers. Despite being a 'national' qualification, the growing deregulation
in both care and training has resulted in market place competition which has had
consequences for the standardisation and costs of training programmes. The
voluntaristic nature of employer investment in training, and the lack of care legislation
to make training an obligatory aspect of home registration, has resulted in a low uptake
of NVQs in small businesses because of the costs involved in assessment time.