Business experts

Expert opinion: Business benefits of professional qualifications

Written by Barrie Smale on .

Barrie SmaleFor many jobs, a professional qualification is essential. There are plenty of examples across many sectors and types of work where it simply isn’t possible to be employed in a role unless you have a recognised qualification. I’m sure we all have our own examples of when we wouldn’t dream of employing or using an unqualified person.

In other areas of employment, and in most management roles, professional qualifications are discretionary. For example, in my last article for Business Biscuit, I talked about ‘accidental managers’.

Many people are promoted to a management role without any management training or qualifications. Of course, this can work out well. Equally, there are times when it doesn’t.

Individuals who choose to undertake qualifications are usually very clear about the personal benefits. These include things such as a sense of achievement and demonstrating to current and prospective employers that they are committed to continually improving their capability and potential. In short, professionalism.

Sometimes I hear people say, “I don’t need a qualification to be good at my job”. Whilst this can be true, I firmly believe that professional qualifications add value to both an individual and their employer.

Professional qualifications are typically regulated and are designed with competencies in mind. This ensures that everyone employed in a particular job meets the minimum required standards of knowledge, skills and behaviours.

Achieving a professional qualification isn’t of course the same as wielding a magic wand. Just because someone has a qualification does not guarantee they will be a high performer. We’ve maybe encountered the highly qualified person who just didn’t deliver. We also know non-qualified people who are brilliant at what they do.

So, what are the benefits to employers in helping their existing employees to achieve a professional qualification? What is the potential return on investment (ROI)?

To gain business benefits, just like making any investment in your business, you can plan for the ROI you will accrue. It is essential to ensure that new skills, knowledge and behaviours learned are utilised in your workplace quickly to deliver business results.

Here are four brief examples of potential business benefits. These can be measured if you set out to do so from the outset:

  1. Increased motivation and loyalty of individuals – improves staff retention – decreases recruitment costs – helps internal succession planning for business continuity
  2. Increased capability of individuals – improves productivity, efficiency and effectiveness – improves outputs and outcomes – increases profit and/or social value
  3. Demonstrating commitment to supporting employees to achieve professional qualifications results in enhanced reputation in the labour market - attraction of high calibre individuals wanting to work for you
  4. Well-qualified staff - may give you the competitive edge when marketing your business or tendering for work

Barrie Smale is director of inspired2Learn in Devizes, providing CMI and ILM professional qualifications