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UCQ University Centre Quayside

Taking management to the next level


Michelle Elliot


23rd January 2019


Gareth Edwards, an experienced Chartered Health and Safety manager and trainer with excellent knowledge and practical experience of managing H&S issues speaks about why he chose the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship (CMDA).

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, a subsidiary within the Danish transport and logistics giant Maersk, 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, with an eye to the future, I felt there were significant gaps in my business management knowledge and skills, and that the majority of management roles required a degree qualification.

“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 that delivery of their CMDA is planned around a 52 week business cycle. This is instead of a standard 30 week dual semester academic cycle. This means that the UCQ programme is completed in three rather than four years, which most of the other providers I approached were offering. Furthermore, it could be fully financed through the apprenticeship levy.

It also offered exit awards at the end of year one and two. This meant that if my circumstances changed, and I was unable to complete the full programme, provided I had successfully completed the relevant year, one or more qualifications could be awarded, as opposed to just receiving credits. With the year one modules being at Level 4, year two modules at Level 5 and year three at Level 6, I also felt that the programme was very accessible to me; having never been to university, this approach, essentially, enabled me to “learn how to learn”, gradually building competence and independence in my academic writing and research skills in a structured way.

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 support with each module assignment.

The tutors’ 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 will continue to become a more effective manager and because of that I can help the company improve productivity and performance.

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

So my advice, to both individuals and employers, is that the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, is a “win-win” for everyone.

Interview with Gareth Edwards, 2017