Procurement Diplomas (QCF) – CIPS Accreditation

When is an “accreditation” or “exemption” worth having? NOT when CIPS is involved it seems!

Some of you may have seen an advert in the December 2016 edition of “Supply Management” by another Provider suggesting that “MCIPS” can be achieved through a mix of exams and “work based assessment” (WBA). However, CIPS have distanced themselves from this advert as it is misleading.

Full details of the latest CIPS exemption scheme can be found here.

To summarise, Qube learners would have to complete 15 units totalling 73 credits from QCF Levels 4 and 5 to achieve exemption from only 2 units of CIPS Level 4 units worth only 24 credits. Similarly at Levels 5 and 6, 72/77 credits and 76 credits respectively would have to be achieved to qualify for exemption from only 2 CIPS units. The QCF Diplomas at Levels 4, 5 and 6 are worth “only” 60 credits each, so to expect learners to complete additional units to qualify for the CIPS “exemption” is, in our opinion, blatantly unfair and is not equitable.

A fundamental question: If CIPS’ qualifications are on the same QCF Framework as the QCF Procurement Diplomas how can they ignore the credit values already approved by OFQUAL? It seems they can as they are a “law unto themselves” without any requirement to justify their decision to their membership or to the wider procurement community.

CIPS’ actions in our view is clearly discriminatory and goes against the spirit of their Royal Charter objective “to educate persons engaged in the practice of purchasing and supply and by means of examination and other methods of assessment to test the skill and knowledge of persons desiring to enter the Institute.” CIPS state on their website that in practice this means”… provide tailored educational opportunities for people employed in the purchasing and supply industry…”. The rejection by CIPS of a fair and equitable vocational route to MCIPS (known previously as the NVQ Route) severely limits the opportunity for “tailored educational opportunities” and is tantamount to restrictive practice.

Despite assurances in the early development of the NVQ replacements that CIPS would continue to recognise a “competency based” route, they clearly had no such intention as they have refused to positively engage with all the involved stakeholders. They have clearly misled the market and their reputation as the “nasty” institute seems to be fully justified. It’s very sad and completely unnecessary, but it is a reflection of the current leadership within CIPS.

In the light of the above information, employers should examine their HR and related policies which stipulate attainment of “MCIPS” is essential for certain procurement jobs. For many good competent practitioners this is no longer achievable through a practical and cost effective means. It would be fairer to concentrate on an individual’s level of educational attainment rather than establishing if they have obtained a particular “badge”. Job descriptions/vacancy notices should be worded more flexibly and include “MCIPS or equivalent…” and permit alternative forms of professional accreditation such as MILT and IIAPS.

N.B. The contents of this article are the personal views of the author only – Stefan Thresh, Managing Director, Qube Vocational Development Ltd.