Saturday, 15 November 2014

NVQ reflections

Do you ever say to yourself ‘that’s it, I’m never studying another course’? I’ve noticed I say that to myself every time I finish a course, but I always seem to start another reasonably soon afterwards. I enjoy learning and the act of absorbing knowledge. Does that make me a philomath? Or a glutten for punishment?!

Anyway, I digress. In 2012 I completed a line management course (which I blogged about here) and the following year I pursued this interest with another management course. I found the first course valuable and realised this was a development need of mine. I have a masters’ degree in library and information management, but I don’t feel such courses adequately address the logistics of leading a team - which, of course, is something many librarians do.  I enrolled on a level 5 NVQ and finished it this summer after almost 18 months. I decided on the level 5 NVQ rather than the level 5 taught course because of the evening times the classes were held. The traditional course would probably have been my preferred option, but I couldn’t make the time of the class so opted for the NVQ instead. I've studied an NVQ before (level 2 IT back in 2002), but I’d forgotten how differently structured they are compared to classroom-based courses.

Flexibility was a great strength of the NVQ and it fitted quite nicely into my life. Regular sessions were arranged with my tutor at a day and time to suit me, whereas with the taught course I would have to fit in with the class timetable. My job is quite busy and I am a long distance commuter, so this flexibility made a huge difference to my daily life. I was also able to personally select modules and study those that were most applicable to my current role and working environment.

Another advantage of the NVQ was being able to recognise the level I already operate on within my work. When I first read the assessment criteria I didn’t think I had much chance of meeting it all, but my portfolio showed a different story. It consisted of documents such as testimonies, examples of my
work, statements etc which proved that I already did meet the level 5 criteria. This was a nice surprise and quite a confidence boost! The course is accredited by the Chartered Management Institute, which I joined on a student membership basis (at just £20 for the year I couldn't resist!).  Qualifying  meant I could upgrade my membership and use the post nominal MCMI. I didn't realise this when I enrolled on the course so it was a happy surprise!

As well as proving my operational level, my knowledge also increased. I became aware of topics I hadn’t particularly given much thought to before, and learned to consider wider options. On reflection, I am glad I chose the NVQ over the classroom-based evening course. I was unsure of the benefits of the NVQ to begin with, but I liked the way it consolidated my knowledge and competencies. It was also good to experience a learning model I wasn’t used to. NVQs may not be to everyone’s taste, and some people question their value, but I discovered there are definitely benefits to them. Would I choose one again? Probably, yes!

I'd quite like to increase my management qualifications again, but the level 7 options focus on strategic management and that isn't part of my current role. Perhaps a foundation degree, instead? Hopefully the opportunity will arise...

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