If you’re stuck in a rut at work and not making much progress with finding a more rewarding position — a common situation for many people thanks to the recent economic climate — then you may want to consider broadening your knowledge or formalising your existing proficiency with a relevant vocational qualification.
It may be that your ideal job is in an entirely differently sector or requires a whole new set of skills, in which case a targeted vocational course can often help to overcome a lack of hands on experience. If, on the other hand, you are seeking a pay rise or promotion within your existing company then showing commitment through further study could be just the thing to demonstrate your credentials and ambition to your boss.
Purely on a financial level, research conducted by the University of Sheffield and published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills has shown that vocational qualifications make a marked difference to employees’ earnings. The effect varies between sectors and occupations, ranging from 5 and 23 per cent.
If you have decided to pursue this route then you can choose to attend classes at a local college or other training establishment. The other option is to complete a course via home learning, which offers a range of benefits to anyone trying to combine work with study.
No set start date
A clear advantage of distance learning is the significantly enhanced level of flexibility when compared to traditional courses. Rather than being tied to academic term dates – which might mean waiting almost a whole year should an enrolment deadline be missed – distance learning can generally start at any time. This means that you can gain your qualification as quickly as possible and maximise employment opportunities.
Ability to combine work with existing commitments
In today’s increasingly busy society, distance learning also means that there is no need to attend classes at a set time every week, which can test the commitment of even the most dedicated student.
Distance learning can be fitted around existing professional and personal responsibilities, allowing people to gain a new qualification while maintaining their earning power, family life and leisure time. In a study we conducted recently, almost two thirds (57 per cent) cited the ability to continue working while studying, and to work at their own pace, as the key benefits of distance learning.
If you are seeking to improve your profile within your existing organisation then distance learning will allow you to demonstrate drive and aptitude without impacting on your current responsibilities.
If the idea of going back into a classroom is daunting then you’re not alone. In fact, 16 per cent of respondents to our survey said that distance learning would allow them to avoid feeling embarrassed in front of their peers should they get something wrong or take longer to pick up a particular concept. This shows that confidence can be a real issue in inhibiting adult learning, which can be easily addressed by taking study out of the classroom environment.
With distance learning, you progress at your own pace and submit work or take exams when you are fully ready to do so. This means that if other areas of your life suddenly demand more attention — such as job hunting or increased commitments at work – then you can simply put your studies on hold and return to them when things have calmed down.
It’s highly effective
These points aside, distance learning also performs well when compared with the grades and pass rates achieved through classroom-based education. A recent US-based study showed that 62 per cent of Chief Academic Officers rated learning outcomes for online instruction as the same or superior to those for face-to-face instruction.
With the UK’s economic prospects still looking uncertain over the coming months, combined with predictions of rising unemployment, it’s important to consider how you can stand out in a competitive job market. Studying for a new vocational qualification by distance learning will allow you to demonstrate self-motivation and acquire valuable new skills with minimal impact on your existing lifestyle, which will prove beneficial in the search for your next career move.