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Training and Qualifications In the Workplace

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 17 Dec 2013 | comments*Discuss
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Training and education of staff is often promoted both from within businesses and from outside agencies, as a motivating tool, which is essential to maintaining a top performing organisation. The unfortunate fact is that employers are not obliged to train their staff and many organisations take advantage of this.

Changing World or Work

In the fast moving world of work that we face today, changing employers is far easier and more common than it was 50 years ago. The days of a job for life have truly disappeared. In this new environment, many employers, especially in smaller organisations where the cost of training is a bigger proportional burden, are sometimes reluctant to train their staff, as they fear they will be poached. This is borne out, at least superficially, by the number of job adverts that are seen looking for qualified people against the number that advertise jobs with training.

In fact, human resource research shows that training staff does make them more likely to stay with an organisation. And although some commercial qualifications, such as specific IT skills certificates, can cost thousands of pounds, there are many other less expensive sources of training.

Training Options

At the entry level, many local colleges offer part-time courses in a number of formats. The course might be held in the evening or it could require one day per week in college (day-release programmes), which might be more acceptable to an employer than losing staff members for weeks on end. Those qualifications that might be offered in this way are BTECs, which are similar to GCSEs and A-levels but based on business and more practical, or NVQs (SCQs in Scotland), which are very practical and have 5 levels of competency.

Covering a slightly higher level are HNCs and HNDs, Higher National certificates and diplomas, which sit alongside the higher levels of BTECs and NVQs, between A-levels and Bachelor's degrees. These are not so easy to get while being employed. Many people give up work in order to gain a higher level qualification that they feel will advance them in their chosen profession, or, quite often, drive them in a different direction.

Degree Courses

Some degree course, high-end MBAs in particular, are part-time and are funded by employers, and an employee is expected to return to the funding company and take on new career challenges. But in general, unless someone is a valued employee of long standing, this is the exception, not the rule. If the course is part-time, such as one week in six with evening study work in-between, then there's a better chance of getting help from a company than if the course is full-time.

Where to Find Advice

Aside from the usual sources, such as careers advisors at schools and colleges, and the Citizens Advice Bureau, there are a number of other organisations that can help people choose the right qualification, in the right subject, and at the right level. Most of these are available on the internet and have telephone advice lines.

The Trades Union Congress funds an organisation, known as unionlearn, which collates information about all courses at public learning institutions in the UK in a searchable database. They have advice on obtaining education funding through the union system. Their funding system is only open to those who are active in a Trade Union.

Local libraries will be good places to start, as they will have the course prospectuses for the offerings at local colleges and universities and many from further afield, too.

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If I pass a qualification that is partly funded by my employer am I entitled to the original certificate or just a copy and if I leave the company am I legally obligated to pay for training received?
dave - 17-Dec-13 @ 7:04 PM
I have returned to Britain after 15 years running small SMEs in Thailand. I have a valid UK passport and have rented a home near Manchester. I am 58 and am looking for employment, so that my wife (Thai) and son aged 9 can join me in the UK on a permanent basis. I have spent all my money on Rent and getting here, and have applied for housing allowance and job seekers allowance. I have been refused benefits because I haven't established "habitual residence" in the UK. I will soon be on the streets. I have had my first appeal turned down. What can I do?
dc - 27-Aug-13 @ 12:55 PM
Coming to britain over fifty with a british passport holder classified as british citizen what rights have you got if you land up say in a accident can you go to goverment hospital. And say employed for 2yrs and then retrenched or company closeswhat rights have you got to unemployment benefits if their is no job vacancies.
Doug - 6-Dec-12 @ 2:21 PM
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