Chris Blythe: Getting used to change

6 March 2012

The feedback in the last edition of CM regarding my article setting out the strategic direction of the institute was encouraging. There is a dawning realisation that change has to happen and that while this may mean things are different, it does not mean they will be worse.

The preliminary work we have done on the internationalisation of our qualification has shown that there is a gap between our own assessment of the qualification and what an independent assessment might show.

The gap is about process. It is about the independence within our quality assurance. More precisely, it is about the lack of independent review. In an international context, the royal charter has a much lesser significance than we give it.

Paradoxically our lesser qualifications, VQs and NVQs, are subject to more external scrutiny than our main qualification, with the result that our lesser qualifications score more highly than the main qualification around independence and objectivity.

One response might be to forget internationalising the qualification, it's a British qualification, take it or leave it. But that’s not a satisfactory response to all the members trying to use the qualification to pursue their career outside the UK. The other response is to say yes, we have global ambitions and we need to respond constructively.

We have to adapt the way we quality assure our existing qualification so that there is no doubt as to where it stands alongside others across the world and this approach will underpin any new qualifications too.

I believe the new processes being put in place this year will be demanding but fair. I suspect many people currently in membership might baulk at trying to prove themselves with these new processes.

I hear a lot of guff about standards: the more pain involved the higher the standard; standards are an absolute, they don’t vary. I know of some people who really struggled to pass the DMX exams yet others who sailed through with ease. That’s not an issue about the standard, that’s an issue about the person.

If we are committed to producing high-quality, well-qualified people, competent to lead this industry wherever they may be, then we need to ensure that what we do and the way we do it meets that purpose and not some other, however well meaning.

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