Rewarding experience

Thanks to Professional Recognition Awards, the lines are blurring between vocational and academic learning

01 July 2013

Stan Rowland, a senior training engineer at global corporation Schneider Electric, recently became the first successful candidate of the new City & Guilds Professional Recognition Awards (PRAs). The PRAs are accredited qualifications that enable people at management level or above to have their knowledge, skills and experience recognised with a higher qualification in levels 4 to 7.

‘It feels fantastic to be the first recipient of the PRA,’ Stan says, ‘it’s a way to legitimise all the effort, time and hard work spent over the course of my career.’ The awards were designed so applicants could collate experience gained throughout their working life, as well as bringing together any previous vocational qualifications, to form a qualification. 

‘It’s for the individual who has had internal training and experience within a company but has not received any formal qualifications to back it up,’ explains Richard Simpson, PRA Portfolio Manager at City & Guilds. ‘The applicant is applying the business practices that a student might learn in an academic setting, but in a practical setting at work.’

The Level 7 Professional Recognition in Engineering Management award, which Stan has received, earns the candidate a City & Guilds membership, the post-nominals MCGI, and is comparable in complexity to a Masters degree. ‘People in competitive environments are frequently expected to have some higher level qualification,’ says Richard, ‘so the PRA shows your ability to operate at the same level as a Masters, but that you are coming from a practical background rather than an academic one.’

Stan entered employment through a City & Guilds apprenticeship in engineering and moved into technician training, rapidly progressing through the industry by working in leadership and management roles on large engineering projects. At present, he trains the engineers of Schneider Electric Corporation, which has approximately 137,000 employees worldwide. ‘A lot of people like myself don’t have the time to do a degree, so this award is about showing that, with 41 years of experience, I am as equipped and educated as anyone who has been to university,’ says Stan.

The PRAs also act as a milestone for people to demonstrate the level of proficiency they have achieved, as well as supporting continuous professional development and life-long learning. The six competencies that applicants need to meet become more complex throughout the levels, indicating how the employee is developing in their field of work. 

‘For some people in vocational training, the qualifications offered stop after level 3,’ says Richard. ‘This offers an opportunity to climb to higher qualified levels in any sector, particularly those not usually associated with higher education such as building or waste management.’

Richard believes that PRAs are vital in showing how vocational education is moving towards the same status as academic qualifications. ‘A 16-year-old starting an apprenticeship needs to be able to see that there is a progression route ahead of them. It’s showing that within vocational training there is a route to higher levels.’


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