Spotlight on…qualifications

The latest Recruitment Confidence Index from the Cranfield School of Management once again revealed that skills shortages are at their most acute at management level.

One in 10 respondents confessed that they had left management roles unfilled because the candidates did not meet their minimum skills requirements.

Define skills
But how do organisations define these skills requirements? The most formal way to do this is through the qualifications someone has gained, but a trend has emerged where employers are placing less emphasis on letters after names and more on on-the-job skills.

The English Premier League, for example, recently suggested that Glenn Roeder could not be the new manager of Newcastle United since he did not possess the required licence, only to change its mind a few weeks later. And neither of the finalists in hit TV show The Apprentice were graduates, proving a degree is not the only route into a well-paid job.

A survey by the Chartered Management Institute backs this up. It found that the most effective development route for managers is a combination of qualifications and on-the-job learning experiences, enhanced by continuing professional development.

Make it practical
The key task for HR is to strike this balance. Much depends on how you define ‘formal’ development. But, whatever the answer, the important thing is to make sure it is practical and to look for the opportunity to benchmark against like-minded organisations.

That is why the focus should be on job-related development, such as in-house management development programmes and job-specific qualifications. HR managers need to make sure learning opportunities are connected to relevant workplace experiences, and that their mutual aim should be to balance theory with practice.

One way to get true value from development programmes is to consider creating a performance index for your organisation.

Ask yourself: what do you want to improve? How can you judge – further down the line – whether improvements have been made or not?

If you can answer these questions, you will be able to demonstrate whether the qualifications you require staff to have (or will fund them to take) truly relate to their career potential.

Jo Causon is director of marketing and corporate affairs at the Chartered Management Institute

How to… look beyond qualifications

  • Focus on in-house development programmes.
  • Consider creating a performance index to benchmark your staff against those in other organisations.
  • Don’t rule out qualifications altogether, but balance them with on-the-job experience.

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