Career-minded aliens should head for US

The
UK qualifications system is need of a shake-up, according to Jeff Brooks

Imagine
an alien training and development specialist arriving on Earth, anxious to
develop a portfolio career. The alien lands in the US, and after talking to a
number of universities is pleased to discover it will be possible to move from
assignment to assignment across the USA and continue professional studies at
the same time.

The
alien learns about the American Collegiate system of academic transcripts and
grade point averages and decides to take up the offer of a job in California
while studying part-time at CalTech.

A
year later, the alien takes up a consultancy assignment in Georgia and, after
scrutiny of his academic transcript, is allowed to continue studies at Georgia
State.

On
completion of the consultancy project, the alien moves to New York, but this
time decides to take time out from studies, happy in the certain knowledge that
those studies can be resumed at any time and at any location in the USA.

Now
imagine that alien T&D specialist had landed in the UK. The first problem
encountered would be to discover what professional qualifications are
available, who and where the providers are, and who the awarding bodies are.

The
alien searches for a single point of information containing a database of all
such provision but finds nothing. Ever resourceful, the alien researches
through libraries, the Internet, networks with other professionals, contacts
various institutions and eventually compiles a long and confusing list.

The
alien discovers many UK universities offering postgraduate diplomas in training
and development, but they are all different and transfer between them looks difficult.
The range of masters degree programmes looks interesting, but it seems there
will be portability problems here too.

The
alien looks outside the universities and discovers a bewildering array of
qualifications in T&D. Soon the terms City and Guilds, RSA, Itol, IPD, IITT
etc become part of the alien’s vocabulary and then, just when some semblance of
understanding begins to emerge, the alien discovers S/NVQs.

What
would have made life simpler for the alien, and for us?

First,
we need a database of information that identifies all the training and
development courses and trainer qualifications available in the UK outlining
course titles, study methods, duration, qualifications, entry requirements,
contact details and price.

It
should cover not only universities and colleges, but commercial training
providers, open/distance and e-learning provision, and should be easily
accessible.

The
second step would be more difficult: trying to show the links between the
various training and development courses and qualifications. It is hard for
trainers wanting to upgrade their qualifications to find out not only what is
available, but also how their existing qualifications might link into the
available choices.

Our
universities are grappling with this issue at present and I hope that the
credit accumulation and transfer process will eventually bring us some of the
benefits that our US colleagues have enjoyed for some time.

Notwithstanding,
we still have the question of compatibility between accrediting bodies, some of
which have difficulty talking to each other, let alone co-operating to build
bridges between their various qualifications.

Who
will take the initiative, if only to compile the database? Contact me at ITOL
if you want to talk it through. Of course, if anyone out there is already
working on this, or something similar, I offer my thanks and I would be
delighted to hear from you. If all else fails, ITOL will add it to the long
list of things we have to do.

Jeffrey
Brooks, director of the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning, can be
contact on 0161-483 4577 or at admin@itol.co.uk

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