Is university the only post A-Level Option?
Yesterday was A-Level result day in the UK and although the university acceptance rate was the highest it has ever been, many 17-18 year olds are still looking for cost effective, flexible alternatives to university.
As a qualification provider we often get asked, “How can I get started in a Marketing or Sales career?” and felt that the answer to this question could be found in the same process as looking for a university alternative.
Both the Institute of Sales & Marketing (ISMM) and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) have foundation level qualifications aimed at helping those with no practical experience of Sales or Marketing get a leg up on to the first step of their desired career ladder.
These respective levels - the ISMM Certificate of Sales & Marketing and the CIM Foundation Certificate in Marketing have been specially developed by industry leading institutions and that is just one of many reasons why an introductory Professional Qualification can be a viable alternative to university.
Coming in with the hot topic first, cost can be a huge factor when it comes to choosing higher or further education especially with the rising cost of tuition (Currently around £9000 per semester). Although student debt is not payable until you are earning and does not affect credit rating additional fees of being a full time student can also pile up and this is putting some potential students off university. In comparison to this the CIM Introductory/Foundation qualification and the ISMM Certificate both cost around around £1200 - £1500 which is considerably less in terms of annual tuition alone.
Time & Flexibility
University qualifications take between 2-3 years of full time study, to complete depending on the level you are wishing to complete. Professional qualifications are by their nature more flexible and shorter. With Blended Learning a student would only spend 1-2 days per module in workshops with the rest of the study taking the form of supported independent study. This allows the student to work full time as well and complete the qualification in their spare time. The qualification can also be completed within 6-12 months depending on which pathway is chosen which is considerably less time.
There is also the option to tackle a course like this entirely via distance learning (in fact this is how Professional Academy deliver all Level 2 ISMM Qualifications). This allows further flexibility when completing the qualification with the continued remote support via LMS Systems, tutor emails and Webinars assisting along the qualification pathway.
Although each of the ISMM and CIM Qualifications have a basis in theory based learning there are two things that greatly differ with these qualification pathways to university. Both qualifications have a focus on the practical applications of the desired learning outcomes “How would you apply this in the work place?” making this question central to the teaching. The practical focus also lends itself to the next plus point.
Desirable to Employers (a CV Booster)
Those who have ever searched for a marketing job via Reed or other recruitment agencies will be well aware of the “CIM Qualification Desirable” line under most Marketing Job roles; the same thing is starting to happen in the realm of sales inside the UK with the ISMM. The practical leanings of the qualification make the candidates more desirable to employers for two reasons. Firstly there will be less initial training costs to the employer when bringing in a new member of staff into their company and secondly they are benefiting from the practical learning outcomes from the qualification on day 1 of their new employees performance. As a potential employee it also offers a level of confidence that other candidates may not have, to say, “Yes! I can do that” when it comes to the interview stage.
We understand that University has many intangible qualities outside of studying; we have a relatively even split of graduates to non-graduates across Professional Academy HQ, so we well know the benefits of extra-curricular actives. Whether it’s being an active sports society member or running a student newspaper there are many things you get to try your hand at when studying at university. The point of this article though is not to discourage you from university but to let you know there are other options out there if you are worried about finances, didn’t get the grades you expected or just don’t fancy university.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact Professional Academy’s qualification advice team either via our contact us page, us the chat window below or call us on 01223 365 505 Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm.