We often get calls to the Sancus office from people who want to commission investigative training for their organisation and would like it ‘accredited’. That in itself is a reasonable ambition. Buying training is likely to be expensive and it is easy to end up with a product which isn’t quite what you required. Naturally people want to take as much care as possible to get things right.

If you have identified a training need how do you know accreditation is the right solution for you?

Let’s start with the advantages. If a course is accredited then it will provide some reassurance that the product meets certain standards. To offer accredited training the provider will have to obtain approval with an awarding body. There are more than 160 in the United Kingdom. Sancus are an approved centre with the CPD Certification Service. Other well known names include City & Guilds and Pearson.

If your chosen accredited training provider is an approved centre, this means that they will have undergone a rigorous process to satisfy the Awarding Body that they have in place internal quality assurance procedures to an agreed standard. This should give you reassurance that the overall quality of the training meets a higher calibre – in other words it isn’t just the training company telling you how wonderful they are. Often the level of investment required to become an approved centre puts this status beyond the reach of smaller operations.

Your provider of accredited training will have to have in place assessment and internal verification which, again, means that standards are consistently maintained.

Another advantage of an accredited programme is that rather than picking an ‘off the shelf solution’ you can have a course bespoke to your requirements. To achieve this you will need to work closely with your chosen training provider and identify the correct learning outcomes. This, in many ways, is the most important part of the process. When you are choosing a provider it is worth asking how they will approach this aspect. Look for providers that are keen to spend time focussing on the content. Will they let you communicate directly with the trainer for example?

You will also need to bear in mind that any accredited programme will have to test the students to see if they can evidence that they have met the required standard. This can be done in a number of ways. An exam or test of some kind is the most obvious and often the most convenient solution. You can choose other methods of assessment such as workplace observation. Any kind of assessment comes at a price and the more involved the requirement then the greater the cost. The requirement for assessment is another reassurance for the employer. The student will have to prove to the awarding body and therefore to you that they have learnt from the course and not merely ‘turned up and listened.’ Most importantly the assessment will be independently quality assured to make sure it is fair and rigorous.

Also as an employer you may need to consider what  the impact would be on one of your staff who doesn’t reach the standard you have set.  Training professionals don’t really like to use the word ‘fail’ and prefer to perhaps euphemistically talk about ‘not reaching the required standard’. There may be wider implications for their employment.

Having looked at all these aspects you will also not be surprised that accredited training can be more expensive. If it is a bespoke course then there can be preparation and setup costs. The assessments have to be marked and go through the quality assurance process. There will also be a certificate fee for each student. This fee is usually a charge passed on by the awarding body.

That is a summary of the pros and cons of taking on accredited training and hopefully you can now make an informed decision as to whether it is the right course of action for you. Our suggestion is that the most important aspect of commissioning training is getting the content exactly right to meet your needs. There is nothing more frustrating than staff coming back with lukewarm responses to training. Look for a training provider who will focus on this element. Once you are happy with that then consider if accreditation is worth the extra time and expense.


Mick Turner
Sancus Solutions Ltd