Gareth Edwards, an experienced Chartered Health and Safety manager and trainer with excellent knowledge and practical experience of managing H&S issues speaks about his choice of management degree.

My health and safety career started when I joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1987. I served in many areas of the world including Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iraq, Germany, achieving rank of Warrant Officer Class Two. My expertise encompassed security, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defence (CBRN), tactical intelligence, HR, and health & Safety.

On leaving the army in 2009 I joined the Driving Standards Agency, as the H&S manager for the North, covering the Midlands, North Wales, North of England and Scotland, before moving onto becoming an HSE consultant in Saudi Arabia.

However, it was when I moved to Maersk Training, which forms part of the giant Danish conglomerate that I spoke to my line manager, who was also my managing director, about formal managerial qualifications. Although I had sufficient CPD within my own area of expertise, Health & Safety, I felt the majority of management roles required a degree qualification; all I held was a CMI L5 Diploma in Leadership and Management.

“As I wanted to combine work with study, and wishing to cause minimum disruption for my employers, we decided the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA) through University Centre Quayside (UCQ) was the best option for both parties.”

What initially attracted me to UCQ was the fact the fact the delivery of the degree is around a 52 week business cycle. This is instead of a standard 30 week dual semester academic cycle. This enabled me to complete it in three rather than four years. Furthermore, it could be fully financed through the apprenticeship levy, which Maersk was paying into.

It also offered exit awards at end of year one and two. This meant that if my circumstances changed, and I was unable to complete the full programme, one or more qualifications would be awarded, as opposed to just banking credits. It also offered a roll on roll off approach to learning with the complete range of courses.

As it is a dual accredited course, I would gain a BA (hons) Professional Management degree, and also receive the CMI L5 Diploma in Leadership and Management, as well as Chartered Manager status.

The course is also delivered on a monthly basis at the conveniently located UCQ centre in Newcastle. This is one of its six regional centres in England. In addition there were assessor visits to my workplace in North Shields. Alongside this there was regular communications with the tutors, all of whom provided good feedback and assistance with each module. There was also a student working group which I found really useful for sharing ideas.

The lecturers’ experience and guidance was invaluable. Especially with the formatting of submissions and guidance about the type of information to include. They also advised on the best reading and research material.

In addition each module is reflective of experiences in the workplace making it easier to understand and apply. This meant that, as the course progressed I became more confident that I could study to degree level.

Is it worthwhile? Absolutely.

It is quite staggering that only 20 percent of British managers having a formal qualification in management. This under-investment in the development of necessary management skillsets and tools is one of the key reasons for the UK’s lagging levels of productivity.

I therefore believe that, drawing on the knowledge I am gaining from the CMDA. I’m quickly becoming a more effective manager and because of that I can help the company improve productivity and profitability.

From a personal point of view it also makes me more ‘valuable’ in the future.

So my advice, to both individuals and employers, is to complete the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, as everyone will benefit.