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The pros and cons of formal qualifications

Qualification courses. Pros and cons

Vocational vs non vocational qualifications

Why do we study for qualifications? From a professional point of view it is a means of demarkation to rank individuals for employment. Within the professions themselves qualifications are vocational and all the study is relevant to the profession concerned. (for example Medicine and Law.)

This has become more widespread in employment as many degree courses are linked to apprenticeships and are funded directly by employers. Other tertiary training is not relevant and the qualification obtained does not apply to a particular career. In this case students are showing their ability to study and to commit to a programme. Many students will need to retrain from scratch once employed.

Qualification vs non qualification courses

I have taught both qualification and non qualification courses and I have found that students on non qualification courses ( non state sanctioned ) retain much more information. This is mainly due to not having a final examination.

When students have the goal of an exam they might work harder towards a specific outcome but have less interest in the course content. they tend to forget the syllabus shortly after the exam. Their main concern in to pass and move on to the next stage.

Conversely when they have no qualification they can take the course more casually but seem to retain the content for longer. Modular and continuous assessment is often used to turn a non exam course into a qualification course.

This appeals to students who worry about exams but does not seem to impress employers so much. However once in a job employers use continuous assessment much more than exams when it comes to promotion extra.

Qualifications and the entrepreneurial world

Ironically the business world especially that of the self employed often regards formal qualifications as unnecessary and even a disadvantage to entrepreneurial success. Many millionaires have boasted of their lack of education. Their success is more marked because of their lack of formal study.

The question for all coming onto the job market is what qualifications should I undertake. I believe the best choice is to study something that you are interested in. If you want to be a doctor, study medicine. If you love philosophy study that. Learning has a value in itself no matter what the employment outcome. If you enjoy studying it will help you get employment. If you don’t it is not worth all the effort, time and cost. Use your energy to find a job where they will train you directly.

Peter Bull

Published inMoneySelf development