Degrees of successOn 1 Jul 2002 in Personnel Today Training professionals who decide to get their personal development in orderare finding there is a myriad of qualifications to choose from. Patrick McCurryhighlights the benefits of some of the most popular coursesProfessionals working in training and HR should know better than most thevalue that qualifications hold in career progression and employability. Taking the right qualification can not only provide increased knowledge forthe job, but also demonstrate commitment to the practice and open the door tointerviews further down the line. But what extra qualifications should training and HR practitioners consider?And what are the pros and cons of different forms of study? The range of courses available include diplomas in HR-related areas, MAs,MScs and MBAs, as well as the CIPD programme. Jenny Davenport, director of work relationships consultancy People inBusiness, says: “Qualifications can bring big benefits in the way you doyour current job and for your longer-term career.” In your current position, having an extra qualification often means peoplelisten more seriously to your views on, say, a change management programme. “They know you’re basing your opinions on what you’ve learned and soyou get extra clout,” says Davenport. When it comes to changing jobs or seeking promotion, having a respectedextra qualification could make a crucial difference between whether someonegets the job or not, she adds. DiplomasDiplomas delivered through universities and other institutions tend to beaimed at more junior-level staff and many are accredited with the CIPD and leadto associate or graduate membership. Of the post-graduate courses, MScs are often fairly specialist, while MAsmay cover a broader topic. MBAs are broader still, looking at business ingeneral, although HR issues will form a key part of the core curriculum. Thereare also executive education programmes at prestigious institutions likeHenley. June Sebley, director of client services at Henley Management College, saysthat while the open executive programme focuses on general management , it isalso highly relevant for HR professionals. “These days, they need to be qualified in areas like executivementoring and coaching, in addition to what they’ve gained from CIPDqualifications,” she says. The kind of qualification someone takes will depend on their circumstances.For example, at De Montfort University there is a diploma in personnelmanagement, a masters in HR management and a masters in personnel anddevelopment. The diploma is aimed at younger HR practitioners or those planning to joinHR, the full-time personnel and development masters at young graduates and themasters in HR management at more senior people who want to develop theirstrategic management skills. Mike Doyle, course leader in the HR management MA, says it does not coverthe nitty-gritty skills that the other two courses cover, such as how to run atraining course.Instead, it covers more strategic skills, such as managingorganisational change. “One of the reasons organisational change programmes fail is notbecause people lack the technical skills, but they lack the people managementskills. This course is aimed at filling that gap.” Julia Yates, a careers adviser at the University of London, stresses theCIPD qualification is essential for anyone who wants a good career in trainingor HR. “There are other qualifications that are as good, but they’re not sowidely recognised,” she says. ExemtionsMany other courses, however, are recognised by the CIPD and may offerexemptions from CIPD exams. “People can do the full CIPD qualification or just choose the trainingand development modules, which are run at over 100 centres nationally,including universities and colleges,” says Judy Whittaker, director ofmembership and education at the CIPD. “Many people choose just to take certain modules and then return laterin their career to do the rest.” One of the most ambitious options in terms of extra qualifications, is anMBA. It which demands intense study and can be expensive, but it offers ageneral knowledge of business issues, ranging from finance and marketing to HR.It may not be the right choice for everyone but Sri Srikanthan, director ofmodular MBAs at Cranfield School of Management, says it can be a good move forthose in HR or training who want to progress far up the corporate ladder. AnMBA may also offer exemptions from CIPD exams. “You can do an MBA or a specialist MA, depending on what you want fromyour career,” he says. “If you want to stay in a specialist part ofHR then do an MA. But the further up you go, the more important it is tounderstand other business functions.” He adds that the most successful HR people tend to be those who easilyrelate to colleagues from other disciplines. Like other MBAs, Cranfield’s is split into a core curriculum followed bypractical specialisms that students can choose, such as cross-cultural trainingin organisations. But the range of specialisms available will depend on thesize of the institution, says Peter Calladine, education services manager atthe Association of MBAs. “It’s also important to check that the MBA institution is accreditedwith us,” he adds. Another question to consider, is how academic or how practical the studentwants the course to be. Roffey Park, for example, stresses the practicalaspects of how its MSc in people and organisational development is delivered. Students receive input during the course from other experienced trainers,developers and consultants, as well as from course tutors, says programmedirector Therese Turner. Variety”Many of the students say that this variety of input is equivalent tohigh-level consultants reviewing the students’ work,” she says. In terms of how practitioners choose to study for extra qualifications, muchwill depend on individual circumstances. Jenny Davenport of People in Business says doing a course part-time can putenormous pressures on the student’s private life. But that may be offset by thechance to apply the learning in the workplace over time, which is not possibleif someone takes a year out to do a qualification. Also, employers paying for all or part of the course are unlikely to allowsomeone to do a full-time course. On the other hand, Henley’s June Sebley says studying full-time givesstudents the advantages of getting away from day-to-day work pressures,enabling them to “think outside the box”, as well as offering moreopportunities for exchanging experiences with other students. Distance learning is another option, although some argue that thepeople-oriented nature of HR and training issues means it can be difficult tostudy effectively without any personal contact with tutors or other students. Leicester University offers masters degrees in training and HR managementthrough distance learning, although the majority of students are from overseas.Marketing co-ordinator Sally Gatward says although the course is book-based,there are regular internet conferences where students can communicate with eachother and tutors. “Most have full-time jobs and families, so it’s a practical way ofstudying for them,” she says. At De Montfort University, the MA in HR management is delivered by distancelearning, but students have the opportunity to meet at the university for oneday of each module. “I did an Open University course in the 1980s so I know how lonelydistance learning can be,” says Mike Doyle. “We try to provide thechance for students to come here and take part in group discussions and so on,although it’s not compulsory as some may live overseas or in remoteareas.” With pressures increasing at home and at work, coupled with the difficultiesof regularly attending a teaching institution, a growing number of part-timecourses are offering periodic residential sessions. Roffey Park’s Therese Turner says that while the two-year course isdemanding, it has been designed not to impose an inflexible regime on students.They all work in small groups, called ‘learning sets’, which meet monthly, andthere are six three-day residentials at Roffey Park that provide theopportunity for group work, discussion and presentations. Guide to coursesCranfield School of Management, Full-time MBA, £23,000; Part-time,weekend MBA, £30,000; Part-time, modular MBA, £30,000, www.som.cranfield.ac.ukDe Montfort University, Diploma in personnel management, two-yearpart-time, £1,350; MA personnel and development, one-year, full-time, £3,900;MA HR management, distance learning, £12,500, [email protected], www.dmu.ac.ukDurham University, MA strategic HR management, two-year blockrelease, £6,750, www.dur.ac.uk/udbsHenley Management College, Executive development programme, threeweeks, £10,595; one year full-time MBA £23,500; distance learning MBA, twoyears £12,400; evening MBA, two years, £21,000, www.henley.ac.ukKingston University, MA strategic HR development, part-time, £4,500;MA personnel management, full-time, £5,000; diploma in personnel management,part-time, www.kingston.ac.ukLancaster University, MA management learning, two-year part-time,£9,850; MA HR development and management learning, full-time, £4,250; MSc HRdevelopment and recruitment, part-time, two years, £7,300. Residentialworkshops cost extra, www.lums.lancs.ac.ukLeicester University, Distance learning masters in training, trainingand HR management, training and performance management, £4,500; diplomas in HRmanagement and in training and development, £1,680, www.clms.le.ac.ukLondon Business School, MBA, full-time (21 months), part-time (24 months), £19,500, www.london.eduLuton University, MSc HR management, one-year full-time, two-yearpart-time, £3,700, www.luton.ac.ukMiddlesex University, MAs in HR management, HR development, peoplemanagement, full-time (one year), part-time (two years), £4,500Roffey Park Management College,MSc People and Org Development, two-year, part-time, £11,300, www.roffeypark.comUniversity College Northampton, MA organisational behaviour andchange management, part-time, £4,800, www.northampton.ac.ukWoodland Grange, Diploma in training management, part-time, ninemonths, £4,370, [email protected], www.wgrange.comFor information on CIPD qualifications and courses visit www.cipd.co.uk. For information oninstitutions accredited by the Association of MBAs visit www.mba.org.uk* Please note that the fees quoted in the Guide to Courses may fluctuate,are subject to discounts for members of certain profess-ional bodies and carrydifferent prices for overseas students. Please check such details directly withthe establishments.Case studyPractical course wins prizeCharles Middleton, who runs a management-training company inSouth Wales, has just completed the Roffey Park MSc.Middleton, chief executive of TSW Ltd, says: “I did theMSc because I’ve been in training for 30 years and wanted to get up to speedwith current developments.” He found it tough fitting in the studying andresidential courses while running his company.Middleton specialised in leadership, culture and change andsays the course has helped immensely in learning new ways of designing trainingcourses for clients. He was particularly impressed with the ‘learning sets’teaching method, in which small groups of students meet monthly to work onassignments. “It was strange at first, but once I got to trust the otherparticipants it became a very powerful way of learning,” says Middleton.Case studyModules make senseMary Moore was head of development and training at the HighwaysAgency when she began studying for the Masters in HR management at De MontfortUniversity two years ago.‘I was already a member of the CIPD, had studied for a post-graduatediploma in HR management and was seeking a further qualification to broaden myknowledge,” she says.One of the attractions of De Montfort was that the course wasdelivered in a modular format that involved periodic two-day sessions at theuniversity.‘I could not undertake a full-time course. Because of work andother outside commitments, it also would have been very tough to do a part-timecourse which involved regular weekly attendance,” she says.Her dissertation was on the ‘psychological contract’ betweenemployer and employee, and the researchwas of value to both her and the work of the Agency.She says one of the benefits of such courses, is that theyallow training and other HR professionals to get a much broader overview of howthe different components of HR fit together, as well as a very useful academicperspective.‘Sometimes HR people can get drawn into their specialist areaand lose sight of the overall picture,” says Moore, who is now head ofrecruitment and HR policy at the Crown Prosecution Service. She recommends that potential students research the institutionthey are going to study at very carefully.‘I had a bad experience at another university, where the courseand teaching were badly organised,’ she says. Comments are closed. 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