A degree is better than a certificate

Certificates in further education : Not without a seal

After five years in the office, Michael Tanner decides to break out of his work routine. Making appointments, creating presentations for the boss or writing invoices - he masters these tasks perfectly. But then the desire for a change grows bigger and bigger. “I want to go one step further up the career ladder,” says Tanner.

Bookkeeping, marketing and human resource management: Tanner knows exactly what he wants to learn. The 32-year-old would prefer to work for a large freight forwarding company that also has branches abroad. With the plan to continue your education, the questions come: study or course? Weekend course or after-work seminar? And above all: which degree is best received in the industry? Tanner obtained information on the Internet and quickly noticed: "I have no idea what evidence counts for company bosses."

There are around 20,000 further training providers in Germany, estimates the Stiftung Warentest. More than 450,000 courses are offered each year. But simply taking part in one of the offers is not enough to keep up with the fast pace of the job market. According to a survey by the polling institute Forsa, two out of three hiring managers insist on a document that proves their performance.

Certificate of attendance, certificate or diploma: At the end of a further training course, very different documents are handed out to the participants. "What exactly the qualification means is often vague," says Christina Engel, advanced training expert at Stiftung Warentest. One of the main problems with recognition is the qualification requirements.

Some courses end with an exam, others with a home exam, in which the tasks can be solved at home. Sometimes it is enough to send in test texts. "Some employers can do little with the degree, especially if it is a less well-known training provider," says Engel. Even the price says nothing about the quality of the course. "There are also offers at the comparatively inexpensive adult education centers that are good," says Engel.

In principle, the following applies: Further training courses offered by universities end with further training certificates or with a master’s or bachelor’s degree, which are internationally recognized. Qualifications that take place as part of vocational training are based on the respective training requirements. These rules define the job title, the duration of the training, the professional skills and the examination requirements. There is no uniform, recognized seal for any other educational offer.

Whether further training is sensible or useful is therefore based on other criteria. The professional or industry associations, chambers or guilds provide an important reference point for jobs in the respective industry. Anyone who wants to offer as a metalworker or hairdresser, for example, must bring a journeyman's or master's examination issued by the professional association. Otherwise he is not allowed to take on certain jobs. The industry representatives offer further training courses that fit their areas of expertise. Through these programs, the metal worker learns to weld or the hairdresser receives a recognized certificate for a special cutting technique. The same applies to language courses. The Council of Europe developed the European Framework of Reference for Languages.

Everyone can use these criteria to rate their language skills. On this basis, it no longer matters whether the English course took place in London or Berlin. The providers are comparable.

Michael Tanner did his apprenticeship as an office clerk in a small logistics company in Berlin. After three years he will be taken over and can take on a lot of responsible jobs in the family business. What he lacks for the next step on the career ladder is sound business knowledge. Even at vocational school, he heard about the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK), the guild that also represents his profession.

After a consultation, Tanner finally struck gold there. He opts for the “Business Basics” course. For five months he learns accounting, tax knowledge and organizational management twice a week after work. The course costs him around 1500 euros. His degree: a certificate from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. "Everyone in the industry knows these degrees," says Tanner. "In addition, I can build further training courses on the certificate at any time."

Thanks to the shortage of skilled workers and rapid changes in professions, employees are increasingly having to continue their education in order to qualify for the job market. Whether there is a certificate of attendance, a certificate or a certificate at the end of a course is not decisive. "Much more important is what value and what benefit the training has for me," says Frank Schröder, managing director of Berlin-based k.o.s GmbH and responsible for the "Quality Coordination Office" project. The facility supports and promotes quality development in further training facilities. "The course has to match the needs of the participants," says Schröder. The focus is on the content, the learning conditions and the skills of the teaching staff. Only then does it come to the conclusion. Schröder advises employees to think carefully beforehand where they are going with the Would you like further training. Is there a career jump or rather a career change? Only then should appropriate offers be checked. "An important characteristic are the references of the provider and the proximity to the job market and the industry", says Schröder. They provide information on whether what has been learned is really in demand in the market.

For Michael Tanner, the business administration course has definitely paid off. “I did that for myself first and foremost,” says Tanner. Now he wants to take a business English course so that he can also apply to international companies. He too hopes that new employers will give him a chance and hire him for responsible jobs. The final certificate is a "door opener" for Tanner. He is not afraid that company bosses will not recognize his course certificate after all. “The course gave me confidence,” he says. "I know exactly what I can do."

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