My pathway into librarianship doesn’t go down the ‘usual’ (if it is in fact usual) UK route where the graduate trainee role remains important. At the Institute of Commonwealth Studies we did employ a graduate trainee each year, and were pleased to host some hard working, intelligent and committed early professionals about to embark on their careers. We made sure we provided a good training environment, working with the other libraries in the School of Advanced Study to devise a training programme, and ensuring the trainee had experience in a number of roles (including cataloguing, which has been a real benefit for a number of recent trainees).
New Zealand didn’t and doesn’t have graduate traineeships, though for many people a similar route of finishing a first degree, then taking on a library assistant role before entering ‘library school’ is the norm. This has changed a little since I qualified with the Open Polytechnic of New Zealand offering a undergraduate degree route (one which I taught on a paper for many years ago). I had a slightly different route with some part time study and library experience consisting of evening work at the university Law Library for a few years (a job I got after working one summer for the Law Faculty) and a year’s project for a development charity organising their own collection of books, files and other resources.
I then attended the only postgraduate course, at Victoria University of Wellington. It was then a postgraduate diploma and a couple of years after we finished the school did replace this with an MA. While there was an opportunity to upgrade, I felt at the time the experience I had gained, which included a couple of research projects, meant that the time and expense of upgrading was of little value. The qualification in itself is only a foundation for further development, preparing you to enter the profession but only of value after you do a lot of on the job, and other learning and development. A year’s training in itself can only do so much, but yet it does provide a foundation for what follows.
I was pleased that my New Zealand qualification was recognised by CILIP (then LA) when I came to the UK, and the qualification and my experience stood me in good steed when applying for jobs here, I have since chartered but was a late convert to Chartership, largely because the scheme that was in pace when I came to the UK required reflection on one’s whole career up to Chartership (and as that included 7 years in NZ post qualification this seemed like an arduous task). My involvement in the CILIP then University College and Research Group especially at a national level (and cajoling from people like Liz Jolly and Jo Webb) led me to start the process of Chartership (with the support of a great mentor, Debby Shorley) and complete this, after which I registered as a mentor. I currently have three mentees, having just taken on a new one after my first candidate has submitted and will hopefully be considered and be granted Chartership in the next round of approvals. I’m also in the process of writing up my revalidation.
From an employer’s perspective and as someone who has often been involved with shortlisting, interviewing and selecting candidates for professional level jobs, it is usually common to ask for a qualification as a required or desireable criteria. We have less regard for where people have studied or the modules undertaken unless directly relevant to the post. Masters degree dissertations and often surprisingly esoteric… and while it is nice to see people pursue their own interests I occasionally wonder whether they have missed an opportunity to better place themselves in a tight job market with a more relevant topic (and please, some other methodology than a survey of library list subscribers!)
In itself we have never required chartership, BUT evidence of continuing professional development and of keeping up to date (especially considering how fast the external and technological environment changes) is essential. Chartership, from my own experience, helps with this and in providing a framework for professional development as opposed to merely job-related training. It really helps I think prepare people for the next job up, rather than just being better in their current job.