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Section 1 Introduction to Personal Development

Section 2 Work Based Learning Opportunities 


Description:  The purpose of this unit is to enable you to Identify and describe relevant work based learning and personal development opportunities as a result of naturally occurring workplace activities.

Author:  Gates MacBain Associates

Section 1  Introduction to Personal Development

Aims and Objectives

At the end of this section you should be able to:
  • Explain the options that are available to enable personal development.

Personal development is precisely that; it relates to the individual, the development which a person undertakes will relate to them and to their requirement, people should not be compartmented or stereo-typed. The services of a good mentor and guide in the early stages and throughout an individual’s career cannot be overstated, regardless of their position. Everyone will from time to time need to assess their career path and talk over their thoughts with someone who understands the options available.    

Personal development opportunities in the workplace can be varied and of greater or lesser use to the individual, these may have an academic base or be based upon competence to perform in the workplace. 

Examples of qualifications which have an Academic Base will include: 
  • National and Higher National Certificates and Diplomas.
  • Foundation Degrees
  • Ordinary First Degrees
Where these are studied on a part time release basis, whilst the student is employed, it is   usual to consider that much of the experience gained in the work situation contributes to the knowledge and understanding of the topics being studied. It does not necessarily follow that knowledge and understanding of a topic gives competency to perform.

Where such qualifications are studied without exposure to actual working conditions as would be the case on a full time course without a work placement; only knowledge and understanding is present and the individual will need a period of time in industry before competence can be tested and established.  

Formal learning activities do however usually produce the seemingly all important Degree, Diploma or Certificate. 

The website below links to the Edexcel website which provides information of specific qualification aims applicable to individual disciplines.  

These may merely note attendance, they may demonstrate a certain level of knowledge and understanding of the topics considered but importantly the certificate may demonstrate competence to perform.  

The Professional Institutes and Institutions may accept academic qualifications as proof of knowledge and understanding; few if any will accept such qualifications without proof of experience and more importantly competence within the workplace. 

The website of the Professional Institute are listed below and you should visit the appropriate one for your discipline to establish their requirements. Click on the appropriate link to establish the training and educational opportunities available and membership criteria. 

Qualifications awarded on the basis of competence to perform in the workplace are considered in the next section.  


Self-Assessment Task

  • Discuss the ways that can be used to enable personal development

Section 2  Work Based Learning Opportunities

Aims and Objectives

At the end of this section you should be able to:
  • Explain the opportunities for work based learning

Every day offers an opportunity to learn and whilst formal taught courses and examinations may be the traditional manner in which individuals gain qualifications; such activities are only a part of career development.  

Work based learning may be considered an option by people who many prefer to learn in a manner which is directly appropriate to the work that they are undertaking. Work- based learning will usually contribute to and /or be recognised within the industry in which the individual works. 

Most employers recognise that qualifications are required by the workforce and it is in interest of the employer to ensure that the workforce is suitably qualified. If this training and learning can be completed in a work environment with minimal absence from the workplace the qualification aim will have obvious appeal. 

Many work based opportunities are completed via in-house training programmes devised to meet specific training needs, these serve a useful purpose but are often tailored to the specific requirements of the company and unless they generate a nationally recognised certificate they are limited in value when the individual changes company. Work place activities give experience and in all activities the importance of a wide range of experience cannot be over overstated. 

Work based learning should not be considered to be confined to academic activities; it incorporates all of the whole range of human social interaction, often initially considered to be more important than certificates diploma or degrees. 

Problem solving, dealing with people, gaining authority taking responsibility, negotiation skills, time management, report writing team formation – the list is endless.

The personal characteristics displayed by the individual may be honed and enhance by formal training and learning but essentially they are developed at an early age and as a continuum throughout life drawing from everyday experiences in dealing with challenges as they appear.

An important attribute to the manager is the ability to select the ‘right’ personal characteristic to display in a given situation.

Experience gained may be both positive and negative and in some instances failure may be a more positive stimulus than continued success; such is the nature of experience and work based activities.   

Work Based Qualifications 

Work based qualification aims are those which prove competence to perform in the work place and are primarily National Vocational Qualifications. These exist at various levels from Level 2 which is largely for craft based activity to Level 5 for Senior Management (set at ordinary first degree level). NVQ prove competence to perform in the workplace via naturally occurring evidence and site observation of the candidate.  

The basic qualifications to prove competence to perform need to be established early in an individual’s career and may vary from NVQ’s to Masters Degrees and beyond,  it is also necessary to hold certain renewable qualifications applicable to the individuals discipline and area of work. 

All construction personnel are expected to hold the relevant Construction Skills Certification Scheme Card to prove safety at work and Road Workers would require to be entered on the Street Works Qualifications Register; to mention just two. 

Individuals will need prove that they are competent to carry out certain operations by CPD activities and testing periodically if they are to continue to operate within their chosen discipline. 

It is no longer possible to qualify at a relatively young age, never undertake any further training and still purport to be competent for the remainder of one’s working life.  

Details regarding how to obtain the CSCS Card and the Street Works Qualifications Register and the levels and types of card can be found by visiting the Website linked to below.     


A good opportunity for worked based learning is through the mentor system.  This places a person with an experienced worker who is able to guide the new person through the requirements of the job.  This is the basis for the old style apprentices when a new entrant to the industry was taught their trade under the guidance of an experienced worker.  

Other Options for Learning 

Something that is understated is the learning that is obtained by seeing things done. The opportunity to watch a job being carried out frequently presents itself on site and this provides an excellent chance to learn how things are done and the ‘tricks of the trade’ which can be useful. 


Self-Assessment Task

  • Discuss the options available to enable personnel to develop using work based learning.

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