Get yer CIPS Qualification here, no effort required!

You know what is increasingly bugging me? The adverts in Supply Management magazine (and  flyers, brochures and so on which fall out of it), that sell the MCIPS qualifications in a way that seems fundamentally opposed to the whole point of the educational process.  Here’s the sort of headline we typically see.

“Get the MCIPS letters after your name without any examinations, attending college or leaving the workplace”.

That sounds great, doesn’t it? How easy will that be!

I fully expect to see one soon saying, “Get your MCIPS by lying motionless in a darkened room whilst we feed facts into your brain by telepathy, then test you by extracting them through a painless Wi-Fi type download experience. The first you know of it will be when your certificate arrives in the post...”

Now it’s not that I’m against workplace based routes such as NVQ programmes, and I know that they’re  not always an easy option by any means. It’s the flavour of these adverts and the positioning which worries me, as it seems to be appealing to the wrong motives amongst students and potential students.

The whole selling proposition is about it being as quick and painless as possible – without any mention of the benefits of the actual educational process, or what the qualification might enable you to do better or differently once you have it.  I don’t think learning, education, the development of skills and capabilities is meant to be easy and painless - surely the struggle is part of the learning process, part of the challenge and the experience?

It all smacks of people wanting to have the letters after their name for cv purposes (fair enough, I don’t blame them, but that's not really the principal point), rather than wanting to be better procurement professionals.

I’ve always recommended that new entrants into the profession should consider the CIPS qualification, but this focus on “something for nothing” seems to be devaluing it. I hope interviewers these days actually quiz candidates about what they’ve learnt from doing CIPS rather than just looking at the letters!And as for what this means in terms of the "licence to practice" concept - well, that's another interesting can of worms.

So how about an advert saying “our route to MCIPS is tough but you’ll be a much better procurement professional at the end of it”.

Or maybe I’m being stupidly idealistic and it’s just human nature to want to take the easy route. Comments welcome of course – and I’m hoping this might start an interesting discussion.

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Voices (8)

  1. Peter Kobryn:

    Had to smile when I saw this as I had had similar thoughts when opening up Supply Management and seeing the variety of such adverts. I have just come to the end of three years of two nights a week study for MCIPS, a route I chose willingly. I found both the detail of the modules and the ability to discuss with and learn from class colleagues to be both educational and very rewarding and have been putting it to use in my day to day work since day one.

  2. Greg:

    I have to stand up for the NVQ as I think if undertaken properly it is actually a very effective learning mechanism. There is this misconception that you gain the qualification only by demonstrating your working practice, but it can be so much more than this. If used correctly the NVQ makes you look at current theories and ideas in the current academic Purchasing world and diagnose and realign your practice on the back of this. Not only that, but you actually analyse and justify the effect on your practice and situate your work within the broader procurement context.

    In my experience it is the most effective way of looking at broader practices from other sectors, professional theory and applying them in a meaningful way.

    Obviously I undertook an NVQ so am duty bound to justify it. The Assessor I had, made me read all the theory and looks at other procurement functions and then justifiy my understanding (in relation to my own job and other procurement roles). Also being a bit geeky I probably read more than I needed to.

    All that said it is fundamental that CIPS ensure NVQ’s offer a holistic experience. They need to ensure that the assessors are really checking and guiding their students to develop a solid theoretical knowledge and not just ticking the box, otherwise the whole thing falls apart.

    I agree the adverts are crass, send the wrong message and undermine the solid achievement that can be gained from an NVQ. I certainly don’t believe that NVQ’s are an easy route or have less value than the exam route.

  3. Trevor Black:

    Re my previous message – it should state that CIPS study centres are NOT widely available. It should I hope make more sense.

  4. Trevor Black:

    I’m 100% with you on this one Peter. I have always sold the benefits of undertaking formal study at a college where you can also learn of the optional approaches to issues adopted by other sectors. Examiners are always looking for your wider knowledge of a subject and not just what you do within your own organisation. The other issue is that CIPS study centres are widely available across the UK and this is putting off potential candidates – this needs to be urgently addressed. Also, I became totally opposed to the NVQ route when I learnt that someone obtained their CIPS qualification but it was his PA that did 90% of the work. If we are wanting to raise our levels of professionalism and want to be taken seriously then we must stop sending out this rubbish.

  5. Ted Rogers:

    Having employed individuals from both the NVQ and the CIPS examination route I know which one I will be taking on in the future. You might be surprised to hear that it is the NVQ route as they have proved they can actually do the job rather than being good at learning facts and repeating them parrot fashion in an exam environment. The headline above merely states the benefits of the NVQ route to MCIPS, which in todays highly stressed environment is a huge help to hard pressed procurement professionals.

  6. David Cambridge:

    So on the one hand CIPS is proposing a licence to practice, and yet their own magazine includes ads for how to get qualified with minimal effort. Surely a consistent approach is required as to what being a procurement professional actually means.

  7. Dan:

    I’ve seen a couple of job adverts that required MCIPS ‘by examination’ simly because of the poor reputation of the NVQ route. I’m surprised that CIPS are still allowing an NVQ route to be honest as, if the reputation is deserved, its just harming the CIPS brand.

  8. InTheAbsenceOfAHorse:

    I think this misunderstands the point of an NVQ. An NVQ is meant to certify ability to practice in the workplace, not certify academic knowledge. So the point of the programme isn’t to add individual save for an opportunity to find gaps that an individual can close through workplace activity.

    Which means that its not for new entrants, primarily. Its for practitioners that lack the qualification and need to certify their pre-existing skills in order to satisfy HR departments who filter on MCIPS, not on the skills that people have.

    For new entrants, the academic CIPS is the right way to go.

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