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The Warsaw Voice » Other » February 18, 2009
Education Voice
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New Educational Opportunities
February 18, 2009   
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Decisions to try to acquire international professional qualifications or join an MBA course or another program designed to upgrade one's qualifications as a manager-for example Executive Studies in Finance (ESF)-are usually driven by the growing requirements of the rapidly changing market and the need to constantly develop one's skills.

International professional qualifications such as the ACCA, CFA, CIA and CIM are recognized in many countries and offer many benefits. Certainly, the most important benefit is that those holding such qualifications are worth more on the labor market and can count on higher salaries. Also important are new contacts acquired during the studies-contacts that the person can use in his or her further career.

Employers increasingly value workers who have international professional qualifications or are in the process of acquiring them. Thanks to their knowledge and skills, such workers feel more at home than others in the international business environment. Also important is the fact that employees who have acquired new qualifications show great determination in striving for a goal, which is an additional asset.

ACCA, CFA, CIA and CIM
The ACCA is one of the best known professional qualifications around the world. It is intended for people interested in modern management. It takes from two-and-a-half to four years to earn the qualification and the student has to pass 14 exams. The ACCA is a comprehensive program in which the focus is on finance management and international accounting.

"The most important advantage of an ACCA program is that it offers an opportunity to acquire internationally recognized professional qualifications and strengthen one's position on the labor market, regardless of the sector in which one works," says Paweł Kranc, ACCA, a financial expert at the European Central Bank. "Leading employers in the European Union regard an ACCA certificate as a guarantee of quality work."

The CFA is a program for people who want to specialize in investment and financial consulting, banking, derivative management, and financial investment management. At least three years are needed to acquire the qualification. The student has to pass difficult exams at three levels.

The CIA is intended for people interested in internal auditing. The qualification is valued highly by private employers and the public sector across the world. People holding CIA certificates have knowledge and skills in effective risk management and internal auditing. They can assess the usefulness of new technologies, identify new development opportunities, evaluate the quality and effectiveness of projects, and identify and minimize risk factors. To receive a CIA certificate, one has to pass four exams. The exams can be taken in Polish, and since May 2008 it has been possible to take them online.

The CIM is a qualification in marketing. The program is offered at three levels and is intended for both those who have no experience in marketing and those who hold senior managerial posts. People with an appropriate education and work experience can start at one of the higher levels. People who have earned CIM qualifications have not only vast knowledge of marketing but also the skills needed to manage marketing activities targeted at both customers and workers, and to plan and manage marketing strategies.

The costs
The prices of managerial courses, including those leading to international professional qualifications, are quite high. Depending on the qualification, the total cost of all the training courses, exams, textbooks and membership fees ranges from several thousand to tens of thousands zlotys.

In the case of international professional qualifications such as the ACCA, CFA, CIA and CIM, it is worth considering taking courses leading to these qualifications-though, of course, one may also try to obtain the relatively extensive knowledge needed for the qualification on one's own.

But even at a time of uncertainty on global markets, it is worth remembering that investing to improve one's qualifications will pay off in the future.

K.J.


Magda Oleksiuk, FCCA, business development manager at the Ernst & Young Academy of Business:
Managers holding international professional qualifications are the cream of the business crop. No more than several dozen people in Poland obtain different international qualifications every year. This is because the exams testing this top-level knowledge are difficult.

Unlike the MBA, the ACCA, CFA and CIA are uniform programs each offered by a single international organization with members worldwide. Students wanting to obtain a specific qualification follow identical teaching curricula and textbooks recommended by the organization. They also pass exams that are the same worldwide. This means that a person who passes an ACCA examination in Poland has exactly the same qualifications as someone who passes the same exam in London or Hong Kong.


Wojciech Kryński, managing director, BPP Professional Education:
In recent years we have seen an increased interest in long, comprehensive training programs. Hence the popularity of extended training programs, particularly those preparing students to obtain international diplomas such as ACCA, CIMA, CIA and CGAP. Apart from the length of the program, which allows a good insight into the subject, there is also the external certification factor that is very important for employers. One example is the CGAP qualification preparing for an exam in internal auditing in the public sector in Poland.
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