Choosing the best course to suit you
Studying for a new qualification can often be one of the most effective ways of boosting your career prospects, whether by enhancing your cv or by equipping you with professional qualifications that will enable you to move into a new line of work.
Bearing in mind the rising costs of further education, it is imperative that your course, and the work you put into it, pay off.
Below are a few pointers, courtesy of Home Learning College, that should be considered before signing up to a course, ensuring that you find the right one, through a respected training provider, to suit your needs and the needs of prospective employers.
Academic or vocational?
One of the first considerations is whether to choose an academic or a vocational course. Generally speaking, academic qualifications – such as bachelors and masters degrees – focus on theories and concepts, whereas vocational courses teach the hands-on skills relating to a specific profession such as nursing. Consequently, a vocational qualification is likely to have a more immediate effect on your job prospects as you'll be able to prove to your employer that you already have training relevant to the job at hand. In fact, in many industry sectors, such as accounting or IT, there is a clear vocational learning pathway that must be followed in order to secure certain roles.
Will employers value your qualification?
One of the most sensible things to do before signing up to any further study is to speak to employers in your sector to find out which qualifications are most sought after. If your motive for further study is to improve your prospects then this should be a prime consideration. You will soon realise that there are a wealth of courses under umbrella subjects but often with slightly different content and objectives, so it's essential you choose the course most pertinent to your job.
Classroom-based or distance learning?
Once the most relevant qualification has been identified, your next move involves finding the learning provider that offers the most compatibility with your existing commitments and learning preferences. It may be that you are unable to commit to the timetabled lessons each week or perhaps you are not best suited to classroom-based learning. If that's the case then studying remotely from home and receiving guidance and support via the telephone or internet could be the answer.
Is the training provider accredited by a reputable professional body?
Horror stories of bogus courses and qualifications have been all too apparent in recent years, with many disreputable firms looking to cash in on people's renewed interest in further study. It is key, therefore, to check that course is accredited by a bona fide professional body. Many education providers claim to be approved by a range of institutions but in many cases this is either untrue or the organisation in question has no legal authority or government recognition. If you’ve opted for distance learning then you should look for membership of the Open & Distance Learning Quality Council (ODL QC) - the independent UK guardian of quality in open and distance learning. Via internet research and phone calls, ensure that the accrediting organisation is credible and also check that your learning provider is included in the published list of members.
Is the course recommended by other students?
Often the best way to get a feel for a course and the benefits it is likely to have is to organise chats with former students. The course provider will usually be happy to assist with this, and former students, having been in your position, will usually be happy to discuss the pros and cons of the course.