Benefits of IRRV qualifications

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    I have been tasked with writing an in-house report on the subject of cost versus benefits of sending staff on IRRV courses, in particular the Professional course.

    I would be interested to hear the experiences of other local authorities on the following:

    • What are the benefits sending staff on these courses
    • How do they measure the benefits (Return of Investment) E.g. quality, quantity
    • Over what time period are the benefits measured/do they appear
    • Does it make any difference? What can the student do after the course as opposed to before
    • Is any improvement sustained?
    • Do they link the Technicians certificate and Professional
    • What is the true cost in terms of materials, working time lost, loss of production, having to employ extra staff etc
    • Is there a more cost effective way
    • What are the alternatives

    Respondents can reply to this message board or via e-mail: or via telephone (020-8430-5919)


    I don’t know if you received any email responses, Pat, but I would hate you to think you’re being ignored …

    Can’t give you a full answer to all of your points, but I would say that I have always tried to encourage staff who had an interest in the matter to do at least the IRRV Technician qualification, and made a point of telling them that I didn’t care if they passed or failed, since they would certainly learn [i:b8db823b1b]something[/i:b8db823b1b] of value.

    Which was a bit of a white lie – I wouldn’t have been too impressed with someone failing an exam with a 50% pass mark – but I don’t recall any of the staff in question failing anyway. Certainly they were all better officers for the experience, and actually knew something about benefits rather than having to rely on advice from team leaders or [color=red:b8db823b1b]that book[/color:b8db823b1b].

    I am equally certain that my own career would not have been what is has if I had not taken the full qualification, even though it was four years of slog and, more often than not, tedious rather than interesting.

    That said, I have recently given up paying my subs. I don’t play golf, I don’t like rubber chicken dinners, I don’t understand why I get invited to branch meetings in Essex when I live in Lancashire (I did actually go to a branch meeting once, and got ignored because everyone was in their own little cliques) and I gave up reading the magazine long ago because there was never anything in it that I couldn’t find on this and other websites. Not a lot of return for the investment, in other words.



    I agree with some points raised by Andy.

    Certainly I don’t think I would be where I am without taking the Technician qualification and the full professional.

    However some of the topics in the full professional qualification I find particularly relevant. On may occassions I have discussed with self employed claimants about their profit and loss accounts or their ledger books.

    Also Tenancy Law is relevant for Housing Benefit as an understanding of the legal requirements for a tenancy can help in checking for bogus tenancies.

    Obviously the HB or revenue parts of the course are extremely relevant depending on which side of the line you are (however candidates need to be careful when answering a question in their specific field – in one HB Law exam my lowest mark was for a question on overpayments – and I was the Overpayments Officer 😯 )

    I personally feel that the full professional qualification gives a good overview of all aspects of public finance. It certainly has helped me understand better the reasons why local governmemt is here.


    I agree.

    I’ve done both the technician and full qualifications and they’ve certainly helped in my career.

    From an HB perspective the Law of Property module was particularly useful, though I question the benefits (pardon the pun) of studying valuation for rating – enjoyable though it was.

    After qualifying I spent 2 years as a part time lecturer for IRRV and thoroughly enjoyed that aspect too.

    In general, the qualifications have definitely helped me carry out my current and past job in HB.

    The institute’s magazine could do with a bit of pepping up though!!


    I have completed the technician level and am awaiting (cautiously optimistically) the results (due 22.8.07). I too would agree that the qualification is worth studying (especially as it will be recognised as a valid qualification by the QCAA (or whatever it’s now called)).

    No extra staff were employed as the authority considered the loss of time etc. to do this course was considered reasonable.

    I certainly feel more confident about revenues and benefits now that I can understand why CT liabilities are raised in the way they are etc.

    having said this no – one is doing the full professional course (it would have to be distance learning as there’s no local facility here) and I don’t think they’d fund me for the course. ( I have asked and they said “We’ll see”!!!!!) I take that to mean probably not.

    Do I know what I'm doing? The jury's out on that........................


    I have been asked to study for the Full Professional Qualification Level 1 qualification. We can only do it distance learning so I was wondering if anyone has done this qualification through distance learning, if so how did they find it?


    I have been asked to study for the Full Professional Qualification Level 1 qualification. We can only do it distance learning so I was wondering if anyone has done this qualification through distance learning, if so how did they find it?


    Hi Judi,

    I have just completed year 1 of the full qualification by distance learning and i found it damn hard. Not just the learning side but the putting the effort in side when there is something more interesting to do.

    However, having completed the first year I did really enjoy it and found a lot of the course content very interesting although as Andy states above some of it does seem a bit irrelevant and the Commercial Law subject just cover such a wide range of topics its untrue.

    With regard to the rest of the IRRV course, the technician is great but I think the people who get the most from it are either senior assessor level and up or looking to go that way. We have just set up as an NVQ centre and some assessors doing that have found it really good as the course content and requirements of passing it are based on actual day-to-day scenario’s.


    Thanks for that James. Benefits assessors here are doing the SVQ but as I don’t have access to process ( I do all the checking) I dont think I would be able to do this. Looks like no nights out for me for the next year!


    Hi Judi,

    I did the full professional qualification by Distance Learning and would agree with James that it was difficult but worth it. You need to be motivated to put in the necessary hours.

    Having said that I did get a lot out of it and since I qualified I’ve tried to help other staff going through the same process. The worst thing about Distance Learning is not having fellow students to bounce ideas off of but I was fortunate to be funded for the revision course at Caerleon which helped.


    I did my Tech a few years ago (thanx to Shirley!) and I have found it invaluable. Three of my officers here are awaiting their exam results from June and I’ve got at least one starting in September. A mate of mine, a protégé even (sorry Gary!), has recently passed the NVQ.

    Study has changed the way they think about their jobs. Instead of thinking of themselves as data inputters, they have realised that their job is a complex web of legislation, policy and procedure and they are better officers for that. As for me, I started the full professional course but had to give it up. I hope to start again next year.

    My study, and that of most of my officers, was by day release. The one who did distance learning found it very tough. I agree with Shirley about the revision course. Going to Keele is very valuable however you are studying but if you are distance learning it is vital; if only so you can bond with fellow students and form your own mutual support network prior to the exams.




    I did the last year of my four-year course as distance learning and found it to be awful. To begin with, the notes were – ahem – less than excellent.

    A few weeks after the start of the academic year I got a telephone call at work, out of the blue, from somebody introducing herself as my mentor (I will name no names but the person in question is something of a “high up” in IRRV circles these days). After a half hour pep talk I was told that my “mentor” would regularly be in touch to see how my studies were progressing and to provide help and advice where needed … never heard from her again.

    When I went to Caerleon for the revision course, I discovered that one of the subjects bore almost no relation whatsoever to the distance learning notes – it was the revision course, plus the fact that two of the final year subjects under what was “new” year three (and my fourth year) were essentially the same as “old” year three, that got me through. However, when the letter arrived telling me I had passed I was stunned, having expected to have to do at least one re-sit.

    Six months later the head of personnel at my then authority received a letter from IRRV Distance Learning saying that they were concerned that I had not yet submitted any course work.

    To be fair to the IRRV I should point out that distance learning was something of a novelty back then. Nonetheless, I have heard more recent horror stories of ineptitude. But don’t let me put you off.


    What is the IRRV NVQ like?

    Has anyone done it/started it yet?

    I did a (different) NVQ level 3 many years ago and it was entirley based on your existing knowledge, no new knowledge required…

    I have heard a rumour we [i:983f5e6128]may [/i:983f5e6128]have an opportunity to do it (again…)… 🙄


    I found that both studying and obtaining the IRRV tech qualification was very valuable and useful to my daily work.

    I have heard however, that the IRRV are thinking of introducing an additional route to obtaining the Tech “qualification” ie by interview/experience. This means that you can either study for and sit examinations (and Pass) or you can obtain it based on “experience”/”interview” type process.

    In my view this undervalues the Tech qualification and I know that there is a distinct difference between the two routes. Also it may make managers/employers think twice before they send their staff to day release study if they think that the qualification is undervalued in any way.

    Hopefully, the IRRV will be consulting with members/associations/students etc on this matter.

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