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PRESS INFORMATION

8 April 2008

PLASA Gains Official Awarding Body Status

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has announced that PLASA - the Professional Lighting and Sound Association - is the first trade association to become an awarding body in the entertainment, conference, architectural and communications industries.

PLASA's accreditation is part of an initiative designed to allow the national qualifications system to recognise the specific needs of SMEs and larger organisations across the industry. It means that PLASA now shares the same status as other awarding bodies such as City & Guilds and Edexcel, and all future qualifications developed by the organisation can be submitted for National Accreditation in the same way as A-Levels or NVQs.

Part of the second wave of employers to achieve Awarding Body status, PLASA has been working with the QCA to conform to the rigorous standards required to become a QCA accredited awarding body. The organisation's work on the development of the new National Rigging Certificate was central to it achieving awarding body status: Level 2 and Level 3 of the new qualification have already been developed, whilst the development of a Level 1 Trainee Rigger programme for 'new entrants' into the industry will start in the summer of 2008. This will cover the core skills required for rigging in any sector and provide a pathway for someone trying to reach the Level 2 certificate. This will involve training and on the job work experience before assessment at Level 2.

As previously, PLASA will continue to work closely with employers in the Live Event sector and the QCA to develop the units that make up the various levels of the qualification, ensuring that it is 'fit for purpose' and delivering candidates who have the skills needed to succeed in the industry.

The current reform of the vocational qualifications system includes QCA's development of a new Qualification and Credit Framework (QCF). The QCF creates a more flexible system that enables learners to build qualifications up from units which allow them to control their own pace of learning by gaining qualifications over time. The framework is currently being trialled in many different businesses and sectors and various options are now available for employers to provide nationally recognised training for their staff. Employers may choose to become awarding bodies in their own right, as the MoD, McDonald's, Flybe and Network Rail have done. Employers may also work with further education providers or representative organisations, such as PLASA.

More than 30 other employers have also already had their training nationally accredited by working in partnership with existing awarding bodies. This wide range of new opportunities for employers to have bespoke training accredited greatly expands the ways in which skills gaps can be addressed and learners can gain credit and recognition for their hard work and achievements.

Backed by £1 million of funding from the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, QCA is working with the CBI and the National Employer Service to invite more employers to become involved in an expanded accreditation programme.

John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, said: "To drive up the nation's skills, this Government is determined to recognise and promote excellence in training, wherever it is delivered. Not only will employers and learners benefit from the new and flexible qualifications system, but increasing the skills base in the country will benefit us on the bigger stage. That's why I am pleased to announce an additional £1 million to support employers who want to become part of the Qualifications and Credit Framework."

Ken Boston, QCA's chief executive said: "Today we're announcing the second group of employers to be given official awarding body status, including PLASA. Employers, whether in the private or public sectors, are demanding a more flexible and focused system of qualifications. By becoming awarding bodies themselves, these employers are in a position to offer their staff high quality training that is specifically work-based, but provides the long-needed accreditation of employee learning that can be valued throughout their working lives. We invite all employers and providers interested in participating in this programme to contact us."

Nicky Greet, Professional Development Manager at PLASA comments: "The real benefit of us becoming an awarding body is that we can offer industry-led qualifications developed for those who work in a specific sector by the employers and specialists in that sector. This level of input into the qualification and the fact that it sits in the QCF will guarantee that those who achieve their assessment will attain a credible qualification that demonstrates what they actually do, whilst also ensuring that it is delivered in such a way to fit in with the flexible nature of work in the industry sectors PLASA represents."

Praising the efforts of those who had worked to achieve this status, PLASA CEO Matthew Griffiths added: "I am very pleased by PLASA's achievement of Awarding Body status, and that we are continuing to take the lead in developing qualifications that are absolutely relevant to our sector. The fact that our industry can influence the make-up of its own nationally recognised vocational qualifications is an important step forward for all of us."

Notes to Editors:

PLASA is the lead professional body for businesses that supply technologies and services to the event, entertainment and installation industries. Operating from offices in Europe and North America, the Association provides business support services to its growing worldwide membership, writes industry standards, leads the development of qualifications and focuses on improving the business practices adopted by the industry. With over 1100 members worldwide, it represents one of the largest member networks in the industry.

PLASA also runs successful media and events divisions and is responsible for the industry-leading magazines Lighting&Sound International, Lighting&Sound America and Protocol and the PLASA Show in London, together with the European and North American regional PLASA Focus events.

www.plasa.org