Study Programmes vs. Courses - What is the difference?
Are you thinking about going to college after school? If you’ve just left school, you may be searching for ‘courses’ but soon enough, you’ll no longer be calling it a course. That’s right, the traditional ‘college course’ is now being referred to as a study programme in a move to help you to become more employable after college.
If you have an older sibling or a friend that has taken a college course, they might tell you that their course focussed heavily on the technical and professional skills you need to succeed in the job after you qualify. However, they may not have focussed on the technical and professional skills involved such as interview preparation and personal development. What’s more, past students may not have had to take English and maths modules or be taught related skills such as cashing up tills or drawing up invoices. This all changes with the new and improved ‘study programmes’ designed to help you develop a rounded set of employability skills to better prepare you for life after college.
Why the change?
This change is a government directive as colleges and higher education institutions all over the UK transition to the new study programmes to improve employability for those in education.
How is a study programme different?
Let’s take a look at what employers want from the perfect candidate. Will they assess you based on great exam results and solid technical skills? Of course this is a factor, but whilst these are key requirements of the job, employers know that young people can be moulded and taught technical skills.
However, skills such as communication, attitude, and workplace etiquette and general likability are much harder skills to teach. When given the choice, an employer may be more likely to hire someone who has a well rounded skillset and is keen to learn, than someone who is very technically gifted and obviously capable, but is let down by poor employability skills.
This is where the new study programme format comes in.
Essentially, as a student, you’ll be taught these vital skills as well as your chosen technical and professional skills to bolster your job prospects, improve your employability and help you to land a job after their course. You’ll now have the chance to engage in personal and professional development as well as brushing up on your English and maths as part of your qualification.
If you’ve chosen to do a ‘college course’, heading straight into work instead of going to university, then a study programme is designed to give you a better chance of getting your foot in the door and starting your journey into full-time employment.
What factors are involved in a study programme?
A typical study programme includes:
- Main technical and professional qualification (in your subject area of choice)
- Development of employability skills and relevant work experience
- Both personal and professional development
- The study of English and maths.
To gain your qualification, you’ll need to pass all of the above factors of your study programme.
1. Main technical and professional qualifications
You will still study the same post-school qualifications for your particular subject area (i.e. you’ll go in at level 2 and work up to level 3 in the traditional way). You could be training to become a hairdresser or taking an engineering study programme to become an electrician.
Want to know what this means for your subject area? Find out the difference between your traditional course and new study programmes by browsing our study programmes and finding your course here: https://www.midkent.ac.uk/courses/subject-areas/.
2. Development of employability skills
When it’s time for you to apply for a job after college, you will be well prepared with a great CV, real life work experience and solid interview techniques. Your chosen college will help you to navigate the job market and overcome any interview process nerves.
3. Personal and professional development
Want to know how you’re progressing? Many colleges will assign you a personal development tutor to support you through your time and track your progress.
4. English and maths
Employees will want to know that your level of English and maths are of a sufficient level regardless of the career you embark on. For example, if you’re an aspiring construction worker, you’ll need to know how to calculate distances and estimate or if you would like to work in catering and hospitality, you’ll need to know how to handle money and write emails. Of course, the level of numerical knowledge you need will vary depending on your chosen subject (accounting students will learn at a higher level for example).
Is this a positive change?
All things considered, this is a very positive step to improving the quality of your education between the ages of 16 to 18. The new format will help you to prepare more thoroughly for the world of work and give you a better insight into what to expect at the workplace. Taking a more holistic approach and not just learning technical skills will help you to become a well rounded individual and more attractive to employers.
This article was written on behalf of MidKent College who provide study programmes and apprenticeships in Kent.