Future-proofing qualifications in a world of change

22 February 2019

Increased knowledge in areas such as sustainability – along with a focus on soft skills – will help procurement teams contribute to the strategic development of their organisations.

The reviewed and restructured CIPS diploma qualifications, which launched in January, aim to develop more agile and creative thinkers, who are focused on strategy and relationship building.

Following a review of the CIPS Global Standard competency framework, the updated qualifications aim to future-proof students with skills and knowledge for the challenges their organisations face. CIPS engaged with more than 5,000 procurement professionals and academics across the globe who input into the Global Standard review – the bedrock of the qualification – to ensure it reflects modern procurement. 

The demands on today’s procurement professionals are complex: whether it’s modern slavery, Brexit strategies or cyber security, business leaders are looking to procurement for the solutions. CIPS students will be equipped to face these challenges head on as their procurement knowledge will be much broader and will look at the wider commercial aspects of the role, as well as a stronger focus on soft skills.

We have seen how important these wider skills are in a recent SM survey of top CPOs, with 79% of those surveyed having worked outside procurement and 35% within general management. “Take every opportunity to do more than your day job,” said a FTSE 100 CPO. “If you want to progress you have to go above and beyond your area of responsibility and contribute more widely to corporate goals.”

Amanda O’Brien, CIPS’ group professional development director, says: “Although CIPS can’t provide this wider experience, the updated qualifications look to bridge the gap with core modules in the higher levels such as Global Commercial Strategy and Global Strategic Supply Chain Management. With 99% of CPOs in our study saying they would recruit outside the profession, it is essential we attract young talent into procurement at an entry level and we are confident that these qualifications will address this.”

Ethics and sustainability have also been updated, focusing on modern slavery, sustainability and fraud and corruption – equipping teams with the most up-to-date knowledge. 

“It is critical that procurement professionals have a handle on the ethical issues affecting their organisations,” says Malcolm Harrison, group CEO, CIPS.

“The updated qualifications not only make students aware of issues and legislation, but equip them with the skills to influence and design policy and lead and monitor on compliance. Procurement needs to strategically position themselves as a champion for change, promoting the highest standards of ethical practice for their organisations and supply chains.” 

As well as the most relevant content, the updated syllabus allows more flexibility. The increased number of shorter, elective modules allows your team to tailor their learning to what’s relevant for them. One module doesn’t come with a study guide, encouraging students to do their own research. 

“The level 6 Professional Diploma module on Future Strategic Challenges requires learners to speak to leading-edge procurement teams to establish what the latest thinking is. We hope this will engender a culture of inquisitive procurement professionals who are constantly seeking out best practice and looking beyond their organisations for new ideas,” says O’Brien.

Finally, the frequency of the CIPS exams has increased. “We have listened to employers and understand their need to have teams qualified at pace. The new exam timetable will allow students to complete their learning journey much more quickly,” says Harrison.

With the introduction of computer-based exams, known as CBEs, we hope that the overall examination experience will be much more effective and offer flexibility for students to manage their own timetable. Any students at the diploma levels can expect to take their first CBE in July 2019 on the updated qualifications. 

To find out more, visit CIPS.org/qualifications

How your qualifications have been improved...

Qualifications are based on the CIPS Global Standard for Procurement and Supply (GSPS), ensuring they are current and reflect best practice:

  • Updated global strategic content (based on GSPS framework)
  • Renewed/stronger focus on ethics and sustainability, including modern slavery
  • Greater choice of elective modules 
  • More frequent exams
  • Computer-based exams, elearning and ebooks
  • Faster exam results
  • Introducing completely new printed study guides with an ebook version and supplementary elearning
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