How important to your career is gaining a professional qualification in HR?

For many graduates who have just completed three or four years at university, the last thing they want to embark on is more studying.  The vast majority hope their degree will be sufficient to lead to a job and a monthly pay cheque.


Unfortunately, many graduates are finding that this is not always the case. More companies than ever before are now demanding further professional qualifications from their employees, even those with a degree under their belt.




In Human Resources, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the main professional body for anyone working in HR or L&D.  Its qualifications are recognised as the industry’s professional standard with thousands of students signing up to its courses each year.  Many employers now see CIPD qualifications as a prerequisite for anyone working in the industry.  Candidates who have these further professional qualifications on their CV are finding that it helps to open doors to a career in HR.


Savvy graduates wanting to join the profession will apply to companies that offer a CIPD qualification through a corporate graduate scheme.  There are plenty around but competition for places is intense.


Centrica plc, the UK’s largest energy supplier, is an organisation which ensures it attracts the best talent through its award winning graduate programme.  All HR graduates are enrolled on the CIPD Advanced Diploma, which is delivered by Watson Martin Partnership, an HR specialist training provider offering all levels of classroom based and distance learning programmes. To achieve their Masters level Diploma, the graduates must pass eight modules, four mandatory including two examination modules, and four optional within a two year period, although many complete in a shorter time.


The qualification is an integral part of the HR graduate programme and brings together two strands of learning as Simon O’Farrell, an HR Partner at Centrica explains:


 “In the workplace, you can develop practical HR capability in all areas within HR. The CIPD qualification gives you the opportunity to link that with HR best practice and opens the door to developing networks within the HR community outside of Centrica. By providing the opportunity to work towards the CIPD qualification, it ensures that our graduates continue to build on their academic portfolio as well as gaining first hand HR experience which supports their learning.”


All HR graduates at Centrica undertake a number of placements to understand the business and what it means to work in HR.  CIPD studies commence towards the start of the second year once practical experience has been gained.


Watson Martin Partnership has been supporting graduate cohorts in organisations such as Centrica for several years and it is this experience and level of expertise that brings good results and success.  The WMP team is well placed to appreciate Centrica’s strategic HR objectives and has a good understanding of how the graduate scheme works, including the rotations, and what is expected in each area of the business. Robust reporting to track progress, ensuring modules choices are appropriate and listening to graduate feedback means the programme is continuously evolving to maintain its edge.


Finding time to study in a demanding job is tough but Watson Martin Partnership’s course delivery combines academic theory with work based assessment enabling students to use their own HR experiences as part of the process. This coupled with the qualification’s modular design and the fact that all Watson Martin candidates are supported by a dedicated personal adviser throughout their studies leads to successful results.


Many of the graduates who have been through the Centrica development programme are climbing the career ladder and have been promoted to Heads of HR or as HR Managers in specialist areas such as talent and reward.  Wherever their careers take them, they have a firm grasp of many of the core principles of HR management which they can build on in the future.


Centrica regularly receives a number of prestigious awards for its graduate training scheme and has made the Times top 100 Graduate Employers list for the last five years. With the CIPD Advanced Diploma now a condition for the vast majority of senior HR and L&D roles, the qualification offers an extra incentive to attracting the best graduates on to the programme.


A wide range of organisations now offer specialist training for graduates looking to move into HR roles.  A good starting point is to check out the websites of larger companies to determine if graduate training schemes that focus specifically on HR are offered. Such programmes might also support you to gain an approved postgraduate level qualification in HR.


For further information about the CIPD Advanced Diploma and other qualifications offered by Watson Martin Partnership visit

Author: Editorial Team

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