• The Contribution of National Vocational Qualifications to the Growth of Skills in the UK

      Grugulis, C. Irena (2003)
      This article evaluates the British system of NVQs, focusing on their capacity to increase skill levels. It reviews the way NVQs were designed and argues that they are ill-equipped to encourage knowledge and skills, partly because they simply replicate the weaknesses which currently exist in the labour market and partly because of the focus on observed workplace behaviours. NVQs were intended to be 'employer-led' and the assumptions underpinning their design are unitarist. In contrast, the German apprenticeship system is developed and implemented by pluralist consortia and results in qualifications that are far better equipped to support skill levels.
    • The Management NVQ: a critique of the myth of relevance

      Grugulis, C. Irena (2000)
      The Management NVQs were (according to their proponents) designed to provide a new mechanism for certifying workplace competence. Centred on descriptions of practice in the workplace they offered a qualifications route that could be accessed by all. This article draws on an in-depth study of the implementation of NVQs in three private sector organisations. It argues that, in practice, this competence-based format is highly problematic. Candidates are required to work towards criteria that may not match their roles and responsibilities, developmental work is systemically discouraged and work is routinised. The article concludes by arguing that these flaws are structural ones which may be expected to continue as long as NVQs continue to attempt to distil the essence of occupations into `standards¿.
    • Nothing serious? Candidates¿ use of humour in management training

      Grugulis, C. Irena (2002)
      This article explores the use made of humour in three different private sector organisations. It draws on observations of managers working towards a management qualification and, from the jokes they exchange, it argues that studying humour may offer insights into sentiments not easily articulated in `serious¿ conversation. Humour¿s ambiguity enables contentious statements to be made without fear of recrimination. Equally, constructing jokes by juxtaposing two different frames of reference provides a glimpse of alternative (and shared) perceptions of `reality¿. This sensitivity to complexity makes humour a particularly appropriate vehicle for conveying ambitions, subversions, triumphs and failures and this article considers some of the `serious¿ messages underlying the jokes.
    • `Real¿ managers don¿t do NVQs: a review of the new management `standards¿

      Grugulis, C. Irena (1998)
      In 1997 the Management Charter Initiative (MCI) officially launched the new Management NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications), benchmarks which attempted to describe the work performed by British managers. This article is a review of those qualifications. It remembers some of the main problems associated with the original Management NVQs and, drawing on some of the best theoretical and empirical accounts of managerial work, argues that the new qualifications have failed to live up to the MCI¿s original promise, to assist the development and training of managers.