Accreditation – who needs it?


Having worked in numerous industrial sectors and working environments over nearly half a century I ask myself the following;

  • What are the drivers for accreditation?
  • Why do we need company specific accreditation’s?
  • Does this show that we as a company are better at performing set tasks than our competitors?
  • Does accreditation really bench-mark our companies abilities?
  • Does it add value to our client’s product or service?
  • Does it show our clients that we have reached a level of business or quality acceptability?

Or – alternatively,

  • Does accreditation derive from the training and education industry? – where Sector Skills Councils & Awarding bodies team up to introduce new qualifications that UK industry may not want and cannot reasonably afford.

E.G. In the late 1990′s I was invited along to an ITN seminar in London (as an assessment Centre Co-ordinator delivering the new NVQ qualifications)  to debate the merits of a ‘New Qualification’. The qualification was called the ‘Foundation Degree’. There were many institutions, associations, and universities present, industrial sectors ranging from architects to electro-mechanical engineering establishments.

The parliamentary under secretary for education Margret Hodge chaired the seminar and the lead presentation came from within the aviation sector where the traditional trainee program of study was the HND the spokesman stated that ‘due to falling numbers of new entrants it was necessary to introduce a new program namely the Foundation Degree’.
The problem with the foundation degree as with any new qualification is the end user – the employer and their understanding or lack of understanding of the Standard that the qualification sets, is it raising the bar or does it effectively lower the standard? Do we make the entrance requirements easier to increase candidate uptake. When membership to our association drops what do we do? merge with other associations or lower the entrance requirements?

Every industrial sector in the global economy protects its interests by setting standards or becoming accredited to illustrate to the world that their company is fit to provide services to clients.

Well does there seem to be a similarity here? the UK government have recently been scrutinising the health and safety sector – for what it describes as ‘imposing an unnecessary bureaucratic burden on the UK economy’.

Well what do new accreditation’s and qualifications do?

  • They increase bureaucracy
  • They can act as a barrier (exclude quite able individuals and companies)
  • Impose financial burden on access to work

The purpose of this article then is not to bash qualifications and accreditation but to ask ourselves why have independent accreditation bodies?

The HSE have set up the GAS Safe register which replaced the CORGI register, should all accrediting bodies come under a standardised framework which regulates and standardises the way each body awards or accredits? We cannot write a new qualification for introduction into education without it first becoming accredited by the QCA (qualifications and curriculum authority). Some accreditors allow automatic access to membership once the individual or organisation have been previously accredited by similar organisations /bodies

I believe that all bodies that offer accreditation to members, organisations and their clients should be regulated and approved to a set common standard.