Having finished looking at topics from the individual units and elements, we will now tackle the teaching and learning approach.
There can be a perception that gaining the NEBOSH diploma is just a case of memorising a whole lot more facts to impress your friends, practising a few exam questions and performing well in the exams and assignment. That’s inevitably part of it, but it’s a whole new way of thinking. A big step up to being an independent safety professional who can give sound, proportionate advice to a client or employer, and make a difference. Of course, experience adds a great deal to this, but fundamentally it’s about approach – and the intention of the NEBOSH diploma is to get you to raise your game and mature as a high-thinking and decisively acting individual.
Sadly, like any qualification, we’ve all come across examples of where people achieve the qualification but are utterly ineffective at the job. This isn’t just with things like NEBOSH qualifications – I’ve seen it with NVQs and purely assignment-based qualifications too. That’s because the application in reality is never quite as perfect (be that the way the exams work, too much focus on purely passing exams, too much help given to students (especially assignments), the way quality is assured and the way you identify and root out cheating, plagiarism etc). We live in an imperfect world.
So, it’s no surprise that working at Diploma level can come as a bit of shock. The NEBOSH diploma (national or international) is a UK qualification set at level 10 on the Scottish educational system (level 6 on the English/Welsh system). This is broadly equivalent to a UK degree level. These levels indicate the level of knowledge, understanding and skill that you need to demonstrate. It’s obvious that working at this level will mean the topics are more complex, sophisticated and detailed than dealing with the same subject at lower levels. Lower levels tend to simplify things greatly (and as a result, often need to generalise). But you’ll also need to be able to apply that knowledge and understanding to unfamiliar situations. That means you need to thoroughly understand the principles involved and not just accumulate knowledge by memorising information.
You need to be able to critically analyse complex safety problems and make professional judgements, sometimes based on limited information. That means being able to think for yourself, being creative and not just taking for granted what you’ve been told. Part of this too, is being aware of your limitations and when to find out more or ask for help. A big part of the expectation at this level is autonomy – working under your own initiative and not waiting to be spoon fed with information. It’s also working with others and being aware of your professional, ethical responsibilities and accountabilities.
Diploma level learning is about being grown up and mature, working independently and taking responsibility for your own learning and development. That’s a skill you’ll need to rely on to make sensible judgements and continue to keep up to date throughout your career.