Although academic qualifications are of course extremely valuable for showing success in core skills, subject theory and intellectual capability, when it comes to proving that you have the personal and practical skills for a role, vocational qualifications are extremely attractive to potential employers as they demonstrate that you are already trained to a good level of competency within a role.
Even if you have had no previously paid experience of working in a given role, within sectors such as education, the care sector, leisure and tourism, law and event management, for example, gaining a vocational qualification shows that you know the basic practices of a role, have had practical experience in fulfilling the role to a good degree of competency and have evidence of being successful in it (to a given extent, depending on your level of study).
In this way, vocational qualifications offer the one thing which can help to break that age-old cycle of being unable to gain a certain role due to lack of experience and being unable to gain the experience through not landing the role – a vocational qualification breaches this impasse and can really get you into work sooner than someone who is coming from a position of no experience at all.
Another of those cycles which vocational qualifications helps to break is that of being unable to afford to study without working but not having the time to study due to the need to work.
Vocational qualifications offer the benefit of being work-related and as such are recognised by employers as vital for training and in developing competencies in the work place.
As such, many companies now run vocational qualifications as part of CPD for a position, or offer work placements to those on vocational qualification routes at local colleges, with the potential to earn whilst you learn and to start work sooner, instead of having to choose between the two. This is particularly important for many adult learners or those looking to make a career change.
Vocational qualifications also offer an important means for demonstrating practical knowledge of theoretical ideas. For example, knowing and understanding the theory of health and safety protocols for the events industry is one thing, but being able to apply this to the writing of a thorough risk assessment, which takes in all factors for a particular event, the specific venue and the target audience (which may well include children, the vulnerable or the elderly) is quite another.
Whilst academic learning as part of a degree might include the how-to element for transferring learning into practice, vocational qualifications offer the underpinning theory alongside the actual experience of putting it into practice and also in evaluating the outcomes.
It is this type of practical, work-related experience which is vital to potential employers and allows you to not only be able to demonstrate and discuss your experiences and practice, but also presents you as highly professional when it comes to interviews.
And of course it doesn’t stop there. One of the things the events industry has in common with other sectors, such as the care, leisure and tourism and administrative industries is that whilst a role may be defined, the contexts in which roles are carried out can vary considerably.
For example, just as a nurse or healthcare professional might work within several establishment contexts, say a public or private hospital, private home or residential nursing home and need to transfer their skills across these different areas, so an event manager may work within public or corporate industries, specialise in outdoor or indoor events and help change contexts between preparing and planning, delivering and presenting or marketing. Vocational qualifications offer an ideal route for demonstrating the development of these transferable skills across a whole range of contexts.
Additionally, even if a vocational qualification seems to best-fit a particular role, such as the services or armed forces, many vocational qualifications are set up to enable participants to develop transferable skills in people management, teamwork, time-keeping and IT skills which will also suit many other roles.
Adapting the use of a vocational qualification into many relevant sectors isn’t the only way they’re flexible – many are also run as evening or part-time courses and even through online routes.
This means that whatever the daily constraints of time on a schedule, time of life or restrictions of responsibilities with a need to keep earning from the ‘day job’, vocational qualifications can be studied in many different ways and times, making them an ideal way to gain experience for a whole new career, whilst still gaining an income from the old one.
Finally, many employers also find that employees who have or are studying for vocational qualifications are additionally productive in the workplace.
It’s also true that because vocational qualifications offer that bridge between theory and practice, employees who have these qualifications offer not only expertise in what they’re doing, but also a holistic insight into why.
So, undertaking a vocational Event Academy qualification whilst you’re still applying for event management jobs is another way of showing potential employers that you’re already taking steps to be a work-ready professional in events management.