Speed is becoming an increasingly important factor in tackling an unprecedented global demand for skills. The need for talented and trained staff is set to continue as many jobs go unfulfilled, and employers frequently report challenges in finding the right people with the right skills.
To successfully meet skill gaps, speed is an important component for certificates, but speed must not give way to integrity.
The skills gap is an international challenge, and workers in the UK are certainly not immune as it is 'estimated nine million adults in England have low basic skills' according to OECD research.
A great transformation in how we work is underway in the workforce, and now more than ever, we need to top-up and adapt, demonstrating what we are capable of in practice and on paper. The transformation spans all sectors and is not just limited to technical skills but also soft or core skills.
Therefore, speed is becoming an increasingly important factor for employees and employers in learning, assessment and certification. The faster a learner is certified, the quicker they can make the most of their new qualification. Speed is also an essential factor in the motivation of learners, particularly those that struggle to focus on their education or regularly grapple with finding the right balance between surviving and thriving.
The process of issuing certificates also needs to be robust as well as timely. In positions such as license to practice, employers need to be confident that certificates have been obtained through legitimate means and the award can be verified.
Issuing a certificate is a significant component in the end-to-end learning process. Without the certificate, the learner could be in limbo. It is also an essential part of the commitment to compliance by an awarding organisation. Certificate issuing must be timely, slick, robust, and of value to the learner.
So, what is a suitable approach to issuing a certificate, and how can it be done in the shortest time while maintaining a high standard of control? Let's look at the two key approaches:
For many, a printed official document such as a certificate still holds significant value. Learning requires hard work and commitment. Having a presentable document to share in their place of work or home is as much an object of pride as a functional document of legitimacy. It is also vital that the certificate is personal, partly because this is part of the notion of pride and also, because it is a requirement of compliance for regulated awards.
The critical challenge for awarding organisations issuing printed certificates is production and distribution, and this has become harder as we have moved to hybrid working.
A growing trend is the issuing of e-Certificates. These are digital versions and range from a self-print PDF of the paper certificate to a blockchain file written on the digital ledger held on computers across the globe and verified via an app or online service.
The challenge for awarding organisations using e-Certificates is verification and handling.
Stay in touch with the latest trends in certificate printing and distribution>
Options ranked according to average speed:
Inhouse Printing (The slowest approach)
For organisations that self-print, package, and distribute certificates, it might have initially appeared that the in-house approach was the most cost-effective. However, since 2020 more awarding organisations have seen a shift in staff working patterns which may now bring this approach into question. In-house printing is often undertaken in batches and requires a trained staff member with authorisation to access the system and base stock. This process is now more likely to suffer from delays or an increased risk to security. Handling surges with this model are also tricky and could result in certificates waiting weeks for dispatch.
e-Certificate (Quicker, but for limited scenarios)
If you have a direct relationship with the learner and an email address for delivery of the certificate, then e-Certificate distribution would appear to be the quickest route. However, not all learners have a direct relationship with the awarding organisation. This means that although issuing the e-Certificate can be prompt, it may end up sitting with the training provider for an unnecessary period until it is forwarded to the learner. If the e-Certificate is sent to the learner by a third party, it may accidentally end up in Spam or Junk if the sender is unknown to the learner.
There is also the lack of a physical certificate to hold in your hand or place on display. Most employers still value a paper copy of a certificate, especially compared to a digital version such as blockchain, which will still be a mystery to many when it comes to verification.
Remote bureau printing (The fastest approach for most scenarios)
The fastest approach for most volumes of certificates is to use a remote printing bureau specialising in personalisation and distribution. Learners' data can be instantly transmitted securely to a remote printing bureau. The personalised certificate can be printed, packed and then sent either to the training provider in a cost-effective package or directly to the learner, using a tracking service if required.
The advantage of this approach, when compared to others, are many. Firstly, the weight and responsibility for high-quality printing and distribution fall to the trained and experienced staff members at the printing bureau. They can navigate the postal system and proactively spot errors with data or trends in the delivery reports. The information they gather can be instantly available to the awarding organisation's customer success teams, giving them the answers they need to keep training providers and learners happy.
What about the future?
How can the speed of issuing a certificate be improved further? What about using a combination of remotely printed certificates and e-Certificates?
This is not the future, it is the present. Using a remote printing bureau capable of issuing e-Certificates means that an awarding organisation can meet delivery demands while also providing a high-quality printed document. With this approach, awarding organisations, training providers and learners will get the best of both worlds — instant proof followed by hard evidence.
Please complete your details below to receive a copy of the Remote Certificate Bureau explainer via email. Alternatively, if you want to talk immediately, call (01723) 212052.