I was involved in a thread on LinkedIn Group ‘The Freelance Writer’s Connection’ that devolved into discussing the need for a degree to get some online writing jobs. As far as I know there isn’t degree for online writing. In the world of qualifications, there are two streams, academic and vocational. In Australia we have the AQF, or Australian Qualification Framework, the body that oversees the standards of qualifications awarded across the country so that they are recognized nationwide. Getting a course accepted is a long, tedious and no doubt expensive process. Once accepted, that becomes the benchmark for that qualification until someone ‘tops’ it, for want of a better description. Everyone else has to buy the ‘package’ and train to the standard set in that package, even though their materials might differ. The important thing is that the end result is the same. In other words no matter who trained someone to CertIII level in Shoe Lace Tying, everyone holding that qualification can tie their shoelaces to the required standard. They might tie them in different ways but so long as they end up tied properly, no worries.
They have different levels, Certificate I to IV cover doing the work and managing it, while Diploma and Advanced Diploma levels are there for those vocations that justify a more development and policy creating level of management. Some qualifications have Statement of Attainment options that verify portions of the qualification have been achieved and often these are all that is needed to get a job at a basic level. An example is the Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA) ticket needed to work behind the bar or wherever alcohol is sold. It is part of the National Hospitality Training Package SIT20207 – Certificate II in Hospitality. I hold a CertIV in Training and Assessing and this means I am qualified to train and assess the competency of students in any other qualification I hold, including the CertIV T&A. I also hold a CertIV in Business (Small Business Management) and some other ‘tickets’, such as an OH&S ‘Green Card’ which is actually white but you need that to work on building sites, a Forklift driver’s license and a traffic control ‘blue’ ticket as well as a Senior First Aid Certificate. I could train and assess all of those qualifications and have done several of them.
I also run courses at local community colleges in online writing and getting published, as well as critical reading and blogging. While these are not AQF approved, they do add to my body of evidence were I to apply for RPL in any qualification related to these topics. RPL means ‘Recognition of Prior Learning’. In other words no point doing an entire course if you can prove you have the experience and ability already. I also hold a Master of Arts in Writing, an academic qualification awarded by Swinburne University of Technology, Lilydale. Academic stream qualifications run from Bachelor to Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Masters then PhD (Doctorate). The Diploma qualification is just two levels below the Bachelor degree. (see diagram below courtesy AQF)
Without AQF approval, any qualification given by any person or training business is not automatically recognised. That doesn’t mean it isn’t legal. Unlike university degrees which are awarded by virtue of the authority the university has to issue them, which is derived from an Act of Parliament (in Australia anyway), there is no law to say a qualification awarded by a private venture is not legitimate. The legitimacy lies with the holder and how they pass off the award. If they try to claim it is official, ie AQF recognised, and so forth, then that is an offence. If they leave the ‘accept or reject’ to the employer, then that means it is up to the employer to value the qualification. They may see it as any other ‘diploma mill‘ bought and paid for degree, or they may accept it is indicative of a process that at least attempts to vet the data and then reward the applicant with some recognition of their RPL.
A broad interpretation of the process in place in Australia would offer that I hold an approved qualification in writing – MA(Writing). I hold an approved qualification in training and assessing people in subjects in which I hold approved qualifications -CertIV TAA40104. Of course the course or the qualification needs official approval for everything to be 100% water tight, but I simply don’t have the time and money handy to get that tick. I think it is not too long a bow to draw to offer a Diploma in eWriting and provide both the instructional materials alongside the courses I already run, and as RPL where I assess the qualifications and experience of applicants. I can rely on my experience running the many online writing courses at two major community colleges and of course my 120 web sites and other online activities to support my academic qualifications. In short, I think I can offer writers without official degrees a qualification that will, if nothing else, hopefully give them more confidence that they are a writer and they should get a fair shake when it comes to working as one online. Of course the diploma is below a Bachelor or other degree and an employer should take that into consideration when weighing up all the applications. I won’t try to con anyone that the Dip.eW is anything other than exactly what it is, an initiative of mine, via my ‘The eWriter Project’ which aims to enable as many people as possible to access and benefit from the Internet using their writing skills. I welcome your comments, positive or otherwise.