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Ask the expert: Is a CTP qualification worth the money?


Question markIs it worth spending thousands of pounds on qualifications? If so, what are the right ones to choose and will they help further a training career?

The question:

I have been in training for six years and a self employed trainer for four. I have a Cert Ed qualification and have been specialising in providing bespoke training to law enforcement agencies in IT systems and soft skills from communications to legislation and investigative skills. Within my specialist area I have never been asked for more than the Cert Ed but I have recently been looking beyond the law enforcement field and have also considered becoming a training manager. I feel that a further qualification may serve me well and have been looking at CTP. Almost £8,000 through CIPD or £2,000 elsewhere (Bit of a difference there?). It seems a lot of money. Is it worth it? Will it pay for itself in time? Am I shutting myself out from a whole market by only having a Cert Ed?

Neil Pitts

Photo of Graham O'ConnellGraham O'Connell replies:

Let me start by confessing a vested interest. I have been involved with the CTP and other training qualifications for quite a few years. I'm an advocate for increasing the levels of accredited professionalism in L&D, but I'll do my best to give you a balanced response to consider.

I think there are three main issues here for you to weigh up. Firstly, do you need to extend your skills and repertoire? And, if so, will a qualification be the best development path? Secondly, will a qualification add to your credibility and enhance your business or career prospects? And thirdly, if getting qualified is the best way forward, which qualification will offer you best value?

In terms of extending your skills, I am sure like most people there is room for improvement but it sounds like you have the basics in place. The CTP does vary from provider to provider. Some, like most colleges, tend to teach you how to pass but don't equip you with much by way of real skill. They tend to be cheap. They cover the minimum, but don't expect much else.

Some providers blend really useful trainer development with meeting the CTP standard. They tend to be more expensive but you do get to build practical expertise as well as getting the certificate.

Based on what you have said, I suspect you are past the CTP stage in terms of skill development but it may still be worth considering if you want a baseline qualification to underpin your business as a deliverer. The CIPD do a fast-track option, so do take a look at that.

If you are thinking of becoming a training manager, then your development options would look very different. The knowledge and skills required for this role are not the same as for training deliverers. There are providers who offer short non-qualification programmes on the key aspects of the role. Personally, I doubt if this training would make a significant difference to your job prospects, though it might help you fulfil the role if you got the job.

A higher level qualification is more likely to build on your current knowledge and enhance your career prospects. There are advanced diplomas which could fit the bill, or even a full masters degree if you want even higher academic status. These things play differently with different employers. All I can say is that most employers worth their salt will be after some form of professional qualification for this type of role and a Cert Ed would not usually be sufficient.

Let's think more laterally for a moment. There are other development options that could enhance your skills and credibility. You might offer some free time to help a charity develop their training strategy. You could become accredited in MBTI. You might look at professional bodies other than CIPD, such as the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (ITOL). Only you can determine which is right for you and which constitutes best value.

It sounds like your Cert Ed and your training experience has served you well so far. If you are content to do more of the same, which should not be seen negatively, then you are probably best to think about what development is of most practical value. However, if you want to branch out, or take on a training manager role, then getting a suitable qualification is probably best done now rather than later. And as to which qualification, I get details of three or four and do a simple pros and cons list. Others can advise, but only you can choose.

Best of luck whichever path you take.

Graham O'Connell MA Chartered FCIPD FITOL FInstCPD ACIM: Graham is head of organisational learning and standards at the National School for Government. He has particular responsibility for developing and promoting best practices in learning and development.

As a consultant Graham has 25 years experience in technical, management, trainer training and as an adviser to organisations on the strategic aspects of L&D. He has extensive overseas experience including working in countries as diverse as Russia and Bermuda, China and Kosovo. Graham still does some occasional tutoring on CIPD and University of Cambridge qualification programmes and runs occasional Masterclasses. He also runs a number of networks including the Strategic L&D Network (for Heads of L&D in the Civil Service), the Henley Public Sector Knowledge Management Forum and the Leadership Alliance Exchange.

Photo of David PardeyDavid Pardey adds:

The issue at this level is often far more about expertise and experience (not always the same thing!). Whilst many organisations may look for a qualification as indicator of expertise, experience is likely to be far more significant. You may also find that you can develop your expertise through other, non-accredited routes, or through smaller, specialist qualifications (like ILM's coaching and mentoring qualifications, for example). A useful way to decide is to look at a sample of job adverts for training managers (or learning and development managers, more commonly now used) and see what they ask for. How many specify a CIPD qualification? As for the prices – ask why one is so much more expensive and compare what they are offering. Does price reflect the value of the training – or perhaps its location?

David Pardey is the senior manager, research and policy for the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM), an awarding body for leadership and management qualifications. He has written widely on leadership and management and its development and worked as writer, editor and an expert on learning resources for QMD, Elsevier, KnowledgePool and LearnDirect.


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