This entry is shortlisted in the 2012 Peer Award “Technology for People” category
Bringing Learning Online for the Advertising Industry
career long learning for professionalism in a fast paced business
To support the IPA’s Continuous Professional Development programme and recognising the need for quality benchmarks in the industry, the professional body (IPA) launched an industry qualification in 2004 – The Foundation Certificate, an online learning programme targeting new entrants into the business. The IPA now boasts six qualifications that support career development up to Board Director level. In 2010, the IPA unveiled new versions of existing qualifications and two new programmes featuring dynamic interactive online learning to enable time starved agency staff access to cost effective learning when it suits them. Over 30% of IPA member staff has an IPA qualification.
The IPA’s membership is diverse within its sector, therefore it is important that the IPA delivers accessible career long learning that covers themes common to all members, e.g. best practice in strategic development, client service, commercial nous and legal/ regulatory issues. Qualifications were introduced to improve professionalism in the business, aid recruitment and staff retention through meeting the desire of staff to continue learning in employment
In its eighth year, The Foundation Certificate is now the cornerstone of all our members’ graduate training programmes, and over 5,000 people have passed the exam.
Before 2004, the advertising industry didn’t have professional qualifications. With the investment in leading edge online learning we have managed to engage and train highly pressured staff working in different disciplines and roles, where virtual working is common practice. The qualification platforms deliver an interactive, dynamic learning experience, described by delegates as some of the best pedagogical material they have seen (ex Oxbridge graduates). A key feature of IPA training is that it is written by IPA members for IPA members and networking is crucial; we developed discussion boards in the online environments which provoke thousands of strands of discussion.
Online learning has been a brilliant and cost effective way of reaching our audience but it has its limitations. Recognising the need for further human interaction, in 2012 we introduced email tutoring to the Foundation Certificate which was popular for delegates who wanted an expert opinion rather than a broad response through discussion boards. We will build on this in 2013 with live webinars and some face to face study groups for delegates. We will roll out these facilities to all qualifications this year.
The growth from launch in 2004 (280 delegates in one qualification) to today (over 6,500 delegates on six qualifications) clearly demonstrates that this career long programme, with relevance across all agency types, is well embedded in agency training programmes. E-learning has enabled agency staff to learn ‘on-the-go’ thus being time efficient; free learning ensures agencies get value for money, and learning from agency practitioners is always up to date. This has attracted overseas markets to buy into the programme, such as to Europe, with active discussions in the Middle East, India and China in hand.
Patrick Mills, Director of CPD for the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising.