According to a recent report on the value of professional qualifications by the CoursesOnline team, around a third of UK professionals do not think studying professional qualifications in their respective industries is worth it.
Meanwhile, two-thirds (67%) believed that putting so much time and effort into acquiring these qualifications is a worthwhile endeavour.
In terms of employment sectors, the sectors that found the qualifications most valuable were:
1) Social Work – 90% of respondents felt the professional qualifications were worthwhile
2) Teaching and education – 87% of respondents felt that professional qualifications were worthwhile
3) Entitlement – 85% of respondents felt professional qualifications were worth it
On the other hand, the industries that felt the qualifications were the least worthwhile were:
1) Energy and Utilities – 63% of respondents felt that professional qualifications were not worth it.
2) Creative Arts and Design – 62% of respondents felt that professional qualifications were not worth it.
3) Recruitment and HR – 60% of respondents felt that professional qualifications were not worth it.
The startling fact that a third of the 4,000 professionals surveyed think otherwise raises questions about what can be done to make the process of gaining qualifications more palatable to those studying.
Relevance is key
Sarah-Jane McQueen, Managing Director of CoursesOnline, explained that the results demonstrated that “the learning materials provided to take learners through the qualification process cannot afford to be generic – those who study have need concrete examples to know how what they learn is applicable to their daily work”.
Answers to the question “What is your favorite source of learning for knowledge relevant to your work?” also demonstrates the importance of relevance in training. The most popular answer, with 36% of respondents choosing it, was on-the-job learning, again underscoring the popularity of learning approaches tailored to the specific needs of those looking to learn.
Transition from studies to the world of work
Two-thirds of respondents were in favor of the qualification process, showing that there is still strong support for the qualification options currently on offer.
Looking at one response in particular, Kacie, a trainee nurse from North London, studied for a “Access to the HE Health Diplomawith the Open Study College and found what she learned to be a “tremendous help”, with the assignments that made up her qualification “forming the basis of the tasks and materials I am working on now”. In Kacie’s case, her studies have flowed smoothly into her career in the medical field and, in her opinion, “makes me a more attractive candidate for anyone hiring.”
Another response from Annie, who works as a Digital Marketing Executive for the agency Imaginary, based in Derbyshire showed similar sentiments. She already had professional experience in sales, graphic design and content creation before landing her current role, where she undertook a number of qualifications to become familiar with Google Analytics.
Annie went on to point out that her time in school has given her more than her degree in textiles, as it’s “something not all industries are looking for”, in her own words. This is backed up by the CoursesOnline report which found that 82% of respondents believed their qualifications (or lack thereof) led to them being accepted or rejected from a role they had their eye on.
“As a creative individual, I appreciate the physical and interactive learning that goes beyond simply memorizing facts and statistics that we inevitably forget after passing our exams,” she says. Once again we can see a view that emphasizes the need for qualifications delivered in a way that engages learners and really focuses on how what they are studying can be applied to their jobs. usual.
What makes a qualification engaging?
Clearly, professional qualifications still offer immense value in many cases and are highly valued by many learners. But how can qualifications providers make their offerings more in line with the expectations of their learners? In one article published in 2019 by researchers at the University of Florida and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the five factors necessary for an effective learning course or qualification are:
1) Teachers make the purpose and intentions of the course explicit and clear and explain how the course fits into the students’ learning journey;
2) The course material relates students in a relevant and authentic way to the knowledge, skills and abilities that the course requires of them – they could relate to the content;
3) The course material includes multimedia elements and not just text, but a range and variety of materials;
4) Students are expected to create content, both by themselves and through interaction with others; and
5) Students are encouraged to reflect on their learning.
By using the factors above, certification providers have a benchmark of how they can win back those who have not been too impressed with their studies in the past. Although each industry and sector has its own unique aspects to consider, these factors will be universally useful.
For those considering studying for qualifications, the key thing to remember is to really do your research before you start your studies, to ensure that you select an option that really suits your needs and is offered through methods with which you can properly engage.