Why Course accreditation is important, but why it’s also broken

Michelle Mosey

WithYouWithMe achieves GCHQ Certified Trainer status

Education accreditation. It’s a topic which I keep hearing about from employers, students and organisations. There are countless articles published, particularly in the cyber and other high-tech education spaces, around the pros and cons of particular courses and what value you get from completing one course over another.

 

Too often I see students focused on the ‘piece of paper’ at the end of their course, rather than the content of a course and, most importantly, the skills they will learn from it. Moreover, I see many employers also focussed on certification or accreditation that is seen as assurance of the person they are hiring, and we are right to want that. However, under the current restrictive and out of touch approach, more frequently it is not an indication of ability or skill.

 

Before I get into some of the details around WithYouWithMe’s experience with accreditation, it’s worth highlighting how we got this place. The roots of higher education can trace back to ancient Greece, where students were involved in lifelong learning to become a ‘universal man’ (hence the term ‘university). Courses were taught by elders in the community who had the utmost respect and knowledge, rather than those who had been accredited by some institution.

 

As education grew and more players entered the market, it was obvious that a system was needed to ensure we had no ‘fly by night’ operators fleecing students out of their money, and also ensuring minimum standards were being met across institutions.

 

However the education market has changed and the way we accredit our courses needs to as well.

 

The average Aussie student today gains more than 80 per cent of their lifelong learning before the age of 21. However according to research firm Alpha Beta, by 2040 more than 40 per cent of learning will happen as adults, with the average worker spending six hours per week in training.

 

With such a vast shift in educational experiences, we need to adjust how we recognise courses and ensure they meet not just industry standards, but also the skills which an individual needs to be a success where it really matters – the workplace.

 

My background is predominately in security and the cyber security space. The cyber security education and training eco-system’s inability to keep up with the ever evolving nature of cyber security threats and approaches has flowed on to being unable to meet the demands of the cyber security industry in terms of providing practically skilled personnel who can ‘hit the ground running’.

 

However what is being provided into the market are students who graduate with a 3 or 4 year degree with little to no practical skills for the industry, a $50k debt, and an employment market that is asking them for qualifications and experience. Coupled with the fact that AustCyber is predicting a need for more than 17,600 cyber security roles by 2026, more work needs to be done to offer pathways to transition into cyber security careers.

 

Now, as the Global Head of WYWM Academy, I can say we’ve had an interesting accreditation journey. Our focus has been on developing online courses which teach you valuable ‘hard’ skills and get you job-ready for an entry level role in the quickest time possible. We’ve built a model where our instructors are working in industry to continue to develop and practice their skills, and then incorporate those skills into our courses and our student experience.

 

Our courses are constantly evolving in order to keep pace with what is happening in the eco-system, and that presents a challenge to map the skills back to the formal accreditation structures in Australia, which are very rigid for high-tech careers. Being a global brand we also want to ensure we can achieve certifications which can be recognised across the world.

 

I’m very pleased to announce that earlier this year our Cyber Security Analyst course was recognised under the GCHQ Certified Training (GCT) program. The GCT is designed to assure high quality cyber security training courses delivered by experienced training providers assessed against the Institute of Information Security Professionals (IISP) Skills Framework.

 

WithYouWithMe approaches the cyber skills problem differently and focuses on training practical, job-ready skills to our candidates that make them extremely attractive to the market. The UK GCT program focusses on practical job-ready skills, so this was a perfect match for us.

 

Achieving accreditation under the GCHQ certified training status is a great way for WithYouWithMe to validate the quality, level and content of our Cyber Security Analystcourse. We have worked extremely hard to develop the course and to ensure the content that we deliver to our students is top level, industry relevant and fulfils the essential elements of what makes ‘good’ cyber security training. Recognition under the GCT scheme provides our students, customers and partners with the confidence that WithYouWithMe training is consistent with Industry best practice.

 

WithYouWithMe engaged with the UK GCT program to have our training certified as, unfortunately there is no equivalent certification in Australia that supports a way for customers to identify quality training and providers in the Australian market.

 

WithYouWithMe Cyber Security Analyst training is conducted in as little as 5 weeks full-time and delivers an entry-level Cyber Security Analyst. Our training is on-line which means you can learn when and where you want and not compromise quality. It also opens up opportunities for everyone to learn relevant, job-ready skills without the need to travel or relocate for training.

 

WithYouWithMe approach is data driven and through aptitude and psychometric testing; matches you to a suitable career pathway. It is about identifying potential and then supporting you with practical skill focussed job ready training and then working to get you into the market with one of our many awesome partners.

 

It’s great to be able to provide even more value through UK GCT program for our graduates, to complement the most important lesson – industry skills.