Management Qualifications – an overview

“You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort and money into training, grooming, and encouraging your greatest asset.” – Tom Hopkins


In a previous Yorkshire Powerhouse guide, we outlined the perilous state of management training and development in Britain today and the direct disastrous effect that has had on our national productivity, economic growth and also personal health and well-being.

If you’ve read and digested that and decided that you would like to take a management health check and develop you (or your colleague’s) managerial abilities, then where do you begin and what is appropriate for your needs?

For a start you have to decide what is it you are trying to achieve?

  • Is it just to develop a specific skill?
  • Is it to acquire detailed subject knowledge?
  • Is to change attitudes and behaviours?

Successful managers, leaders, entrepreneurs, or whatever ‘label’ you’d like to attach to them, are perhaps those that are balanced and can learn and develop in all three areas, particularly the latter. So how do you begin to achieve that and find what is appropriate for both your current and future needs, level of expertise, position in the organisation and also aspiration?

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Using a gross over simplification, there are basically three generic developmental solutions available.

Management qualifications - an overview graphic

The first solution comprises those very focused short courses that target specific areas like time-management, interviewing skills, social media techniques, GDPR awareness, 1:1 coaching and so forth. Generally, these take between a half to two days and are usually more focused on knowledge and skills. It is unlikely that these have any external quality recognition or qualification element so choosing a provider often comes down to referral or simply what’s available.

The second solution is where we tend to find longer courses, either general or bespoke, and with external recognition of both the course and the provider. This gives an element of reassurance as to the quality and professionalism of both, but obviously usually comes with a higher price tag and time commitment.

Finally, we have those courses with recognised qualifications, delivered through approved providers and at various levels to suit specific developmental needs as individuals’ careers progress. Typically, these include Universities, FE Colleges and Chartered Management Institute (CMI) or Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) approved providers. Again, there are location, availability, cost and time implications.

So, what are the different levels of qualification and who are they potentially directed at?

  • Level 2 Roughly equates to GCSE grades A*-C
  • Level 3 Roughly equates to A-Levels, International Baccalaureate NVQs at Level 3 and L3 Award, Certificate, and Diploma in Management and Leadership and is  aimed at:
    • Junior managers
    • Team leaders
  • Level 4 Roughly equates to the first year of an under-graduate degree, Certificate of Higher Education, HNCs and NVQs at level 4 and the L4 Award, Certificate, and Diploma in Management and Leadership and is aimed at:
    • Middle managers
  • Level 5 Roughly equates to the second year of an under-graduate degree, Diploma of Higher Education, HNDs, BTEC Professional Diplomas, Certificates and Awards and L5 Award, Certificate, and Diploma in Management and Leadership and is aimed at:
    • Middle managers
  • Level 6 Roughly equates to BA / BSc under-graduate degree, BTEC Advanced Professional Diplomas, Certificates and Awards and L6 Award, Certificate, and Diploma in Management and Leadership and is aimed at:
    • Senior managers
    • Directors of small organisations
  • Level 7 Roughly equates to Masters degrees, typically MBA, Post-graduate Certificates and Diplomas and L7 Award, Certificate, and Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership and is aimed at:
    • Senior leader
    • CEO of small organisations
    • Director of large divisions
  • Level 8 Roughly equates to Doctorates and is aimed at:
    • CEO of large organisations

Ignoring Doctorates, which are highly specialised and not readily available, we find at the top of the ‘food chain’ of management qualifications, the Masters in Business Administration or MBA.

But is this qualification really the ultimate aspirational guarantor of personal and organisational success? Perhaps not you might suggest, but why?

We’ll attempt to explain why and discuss the alternatives along with the pro’s and con’s of management apprenticeships in a future article.

If you are looking to develop your skills and knowledge then seek professional training which is backed by experience, accreditation and proven abilities.

Blunt thinking on management qualifications from Yorkshire Powerhouse
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