Roland’s nags ‘n’ nails: a good opportunity to modernise the apprenticeship system

  • The fall-out from the recent Ofsted report on the Farrier Training Agency (NFTA) continues to rumble on. As you have probably read, the farrier training program was found to be “inadequate”, with bullying, lack of vision and failure to modernise the apprenticeship being the key failings. There will be no new crop of apprentices until Ofsted’s re-inspection in January 2014.

    The general feeling among farriers I have spoken to is that there is an over-supply of farriers and that the NFTA needs to evaluate and put in place a sensible way of managing the numbers of farriers that are being trained in line with demand. Consensus is also building that apprentices should fund their own place as university students do. This will reduce any time wasters and remove the need to run an NVQ 3 in farriery.

    The NVQ is only there so the apprenticeship scheme can get government funding.  Obtaining an NVQ in farriery does not allow you to practice farriery. It’s a useless piece of paper. Only when you have passed the diploma exam set by the Worshipful Company of Farriers can you practice farriery. It takes four years to reach the standard required to sit the diploma exam. Coincidentally, it also takes four years to achieve the NVQ in farriery. Funny that!

    The NVQ is a minefield of paperwork and box ticking. The college lecturers spend as much time chasing paper to ensure that each student has achieved the NVQ module and sub module (and coursework to go with it) as they do actually preparing us for the diploma exams. Incidentally, the diploma exams are the toughest in the world and any newly qualified farrier that has sat the diploma exam set by the Worshipful Company is by far and away a better standard of farrier than if you qualify under a different exam board.

    So, now is a really good opportunity to restructure and modernise the “apprenticeship system”. As I understand it, the NFTA has already begun a tremendous amount of work to ensure that, come January, Ofsted will be satisfied.  Good luck to all involved and if you need a hand, I’ll be happy to help as long as I’ve completed my NVQ module on “how to wear safety boots safely”!

    Until next week,



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