To study or not to study?

I’ve bitten the bullet and decided to go back to uni – again. Since I’ve started telling people about my choice I’ve got a lot of questions about what I plan to do with it. This has got me thinking about why we study and whether, as L&D professionals, we need to. We learn a lot day-to-day and there are always a lot of training accreditations and short courses available, why would we need qualifications beyond the Certificate IV in Training and Assessment (or the Certificate IV in Workplace Training and Assessment for those of us who haven’t bothered with the upgrade yet!)?

In my experience a qualification definitely helps as a L&D professional but probably not in the way you think. Firstly I think it helps for the theoretical base it gives your work. I’m sure that there are many fine L&D professionals out there with no qualifications but I find that I often need to call on a reason for doing something or try to think of a new way of designing a program – for this I draw on the theory I gained during my studies. If you can get the information another way fantastic but I got it through a university. The second reason to gain a university level qualification is the research and learning skills that I have gained through my studies. I have found that these skills have put me in good stead on nearly every project I’ve ever worked on and ensured that I can keep abreast of developments in the field.

What’s most interesting to me about my person return to uni is the fact that people feel the need to enquire about what I plan to do with my qualification once it’s completed. The idea of learning as a journey seems an increasingly foreign concept in a rationalist world where everything must have an economic basis. This is the sort of world that the L&D professional now inhabits. We are working to convince people that learning can be a journey as well as a destination – it’s getting to be an uphill battle these days.

So why did I decide to go back for another round? Well I don’t need another qualification to advance my career, that seems to be rare in this profession. As crazy as this sounds this one really is about the journey. Most of my previous qualifications have been partly about interest (you need to have some interest in the topic afterall) and partly about career. This one is just for me, it’s been something of a lifelong goal to complete a doctorate. It is the start of a very big and very steep (and at times scary) learning journey but I can’t wait to get started!