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Why Management Is A Safer Career Path Than Ever

Business qualifications in more demand than ever as management ‘population’ grows

The management ‘population’ of the UK is growing all the time – it’s estimated that there will be around 3.6 million managers, directors and senior officials by 2020, compared with around 2.3 million in 1990. And those positions will account for 11% of the workforce, compared with just 8% in 1990.

That trend, identified in the Working Futures report (, which was compiled by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, means a growing demand for people with good management qualifications, according to a major recruitment consultancy.

UK Employment by Sector - changes over 30 years

Percentage changes in UK employment by sector: 1984 to 2014 (estimated by UK Commission for Employment and Skills)

A View From Reed Employment

Simon Baddeley, regional director for the south at Reed (, says employers have been placing an increasing emphasis on management qualifications over the past few years. When hiring for roles that might previously have been filled informally on the basis of what one might call Buggins’ Turn (our words, not Baddeley’s), employers are now looking for some academic achievement in the field of business and commerce.

“People often ended up in management because they were the longest-serving person in their department. These roles were carried out by people who had got there almost by accident,” says Baddeley. Call centres are a good example of this, he says, where team leader positions were typically filled from among the longer-serving staff.

“But there’s nothing like a recession for focusing the mind on productivity,” he goes on, “and that means that management qualifications are more critical. The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) did some work a while ago around the improved productivity generated by management qualifications and the findings showed the difference was quite remarkable.”

Reed Global Employment

Reed Global Employment

Baddeley says the changing mindset of employers is illustrated by the CMI gaining chartered status in 2002. “Management is now seen to be on a level with accountancy and other professions. We have seen a large increase in requests for management candidates at different levels over the past three to five years. There’s a recognition that additional qualifications can provide a lot of wins; for instance they can enhance productivity and add strategic direction.”

Employers Increasingly Seek Management Training and Experience

That means there’s a lot of interest in people who have gained management qualifications, with a “huge” number of employers expecting junior management candidates to have had some kind of formal vocational training. Manufacturing is a case in point, where it’s fairly standard for managers to have had formal management training.

There’s also been a great increase in requirements for qualifications – backed up with experience – for mid to senior management roles. “Sadly, we live in an age where management can be as much about compliance as anything else,” says Baddeley. “Managers at any level need to handle HR, compliance and people management and those skills tend to be more refined in people who have undergone formal training.”

Training helps you stand out from the crowd

Training helps you stand out from the crowd

So taking the trouble to get a management qualification can pay dividends. “We’re seeing large numbers of applicants per position. Having a non-industry-specific management qualification really does add weight because you have the theory to back up your experience. My personal opinion is that it really does offer a step up on your competitors. It’s about putting yourself at the top of the pile.”

Management Training: A Route To Promotion?

A management qualification can also be a real asset if you don’t yet have on-the-job experience. True, management courses can make the most sense if the student has work experience to draw on – particularly in leadership skills, because the theory cannot be put into practice outside the workplace. Yet Baddeley says many employers, aware of the need for succession planning, will consider hiring staff who who have little practical experience but whose theoretical knowledge – gained through management training – can make them likely candidates for promotion to management in due course.’

In the next post, Simon discusses the relative merits of the traditional degree courses offered by going to university.

What do you think? Are you surprised by the large swing toward management as an employment sector? Please add your comments below:

  • F Words journalism

    so true that many people end up managing almost by accident –
    whether that be staff or budgets or projects – and they don’t
    necessarily seek out or expect to get that kind of position. It must
    be really helpful to have some theoretical knowledge to help out in
    what would otherwise be an almost random acquiring of experience.

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