HC Deb 21 March 2000 vol 346 cc503-4W
Mr. Boswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what plans he has to facilitate rationalisation of provision for agricultural education at higher and further levels to reflect changing economic conditions in that industry. [115760]

Mr. Wicks

LANTRA, the National Training Organisation for the land based industries, has recently carried out a Labour Market Information and Skills Foresight Survey covering the land-based industries. This exercise provides the foundation for the forthcoming Workforce Development Plan to meet the skill and educational needs of the land-based industries, including agriculture, for the short and medium term. LANTRA is also consulting the agricultural industry on the viability and value of vocational qualifications. A project is underway to revise standards of competence within the land based sector to reduce duplication and increase the relevance of vocational qualifications. The work is due to be completed by 31 December 2001.

For higher education, it is for individual institutions to make their own decisions about the scope of agricultural provision.

Mr. Yeo

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on the decision by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority to end the setting of GCSEs in agriculture after 2002. [114750]

Mr. Wicks

[holding answer 15 March 2000]: The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) is working with the awarding bodies to develop advice on the list of GCSE titles to be offered from 2001, QCA will consult widely as part of this exercise, and no decisions have been reached at this stage. There is a wide range of vocationally-related qualifications in agriculture and horticulture already available, including GNVQs in land and environment. We shall ensure that there continues to be an appropriate range of such qualifications in the future for young people.

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