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Formal training for PAs and EAs: Professional status and qualifications


Adam Fidler, founder of the Adam Fidler Academy, shares his views on why formal training for PAs and EAs, leading to qualifications, is now necessary for the profession, and what to consider when deciding on the best course…

EAs and PAs will often state that they don’t need formal training or qualifications, as they have been doing their job, successfully, for a long time. It’s natural to feel that, if you’re performing well, you don’t need to learn anything new, and wonder how attending a more formal training programme could benefit.

 ‘I don’t need a degree to be a PA’ – is no longer a strong argument

I completely agree that EAs and PAs don’t necessarily need a university degree to do their job, but a Level 4 qualification, such as our Level 4 EA Diploma, is being increasingly asked for within the industry. Level 4 and above is formally recognised as higher education. The UK currently has a huge skills gap at Level 4. Higher education will cover the more advanced skills of strategic thinking, analysis and conceptual skills. These skills are now seen as the baseline standard for new-style EAs and PAs – developing and proving you have the necessary skills is essential for futureproofing your role.

‘I don’t want to undertake a formal qualification’ – alternatives to formal training for PAs and EAs

If a formal qualification isn’t for you, then consider a certificated course. What does that mean? It means there is some regulation and accreditation offered by the training provider to prove their course is sound, and meets the standards required by industry. A certificated course is not the same as a CPD-accredited course; a CPD-accredited course simply means the learning load or number of hours is translated to CPD points, and generally 1 CPD point is equivalent to, say, 10 learning hours. So, it’s a bit like ‘banking’ your learning hours and collecting points along the way.

‘What else should I consider?’

Aside from a qualification or certificated programme, there are many other informal courses out there – but before you book, check and ask the following questions:

Is the course accredited or endorsed?

What makes it ‘sound’?

Who is the teacher?

Are they qualified to teach or train?

Does the course map to educational and industry standards?

Is it on the Ofqual register?

What do I get at the end of it?

Here at Adam Fidler Academy, our courses map to educational and industry standards – we are proud to be a true Academy. Formal education gives you professional status, and that is key whether you’re a PA, EA, bricklayer or a hairdresser. Formal education has been seriously lacking in the PA/EA industry in the last 20 years – and that is one of the reasons why the role isn’t always viewed as being a ‘profession’. In a nutshell, choosing a ‘PA course’ is great, but a qualification or a programme of formal training for PAs and EAs is always going to benefit you, and your employer, longer-term.

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Adam Fidler is our PA and EA Training columnist. You can read his previous columns in the past issues of PA Life.