The Credit Services Association is determined that debt collection become an industry with real career prospects, writes Stephen Morley

Debt is set to top the agenda for some time to come. Therefore, it is paramount that talented youngsters are attracted into the credit services industry and that those involved in collecting debt are recognised as true professionals.

The Credit Services Association (CSA) is the only UK-wide association for businesses specialising in debt collection, tracing and related debt buying, and selling services. Members range from high street banks to credit reference agencies, debt buyers and funders, and own and/or collect around £60bn of consumer credit receivables.

Though it may have a large slice of the debt collection cake, the association is committed to enhancing the professional identity of the credit industry. So in partnership with the National Open College Network (NOCN), it plans to give the credit industry an ‘end-to-end’ professional development pathway that will reflect the financial sector’s diversity.

With that goal in mind, NOCN has already proved its worth. Its hugely successful level three diploma for the debt collection industry has led the CSA to develop level four and five qualifications this year.

But it all starts with the development of a level two apprenticeship, which will give CSA members the chance to recruit local talent and offer youngsters real job opportunities.

This first stage apprenticeship, aimed at encouraging youngsters to select the debt industry as a career choice, will soon become a reality as Ofqual has now approved our recently developed practical qualification for debt collection.

The essential ingredient to any successful learning and development strategy is the stakeholder”

Every qualification has a defined and definite purpose. The level two apprenticeship, for example, will be aimed at encouraging youngsters into the industry while providing our members with an affordable financial recruitment and training solution.

The level three diploma, our benchmark professional standard, will become more widely available as we look to finalise a new funding partnership in the coming months.

The level four qualification, meanwhile, will be aimed at developing the talent of the future, whereas  level five will focus on compliance and provide professional recognition for compliance officers and middle and senior managers.

We recognise that we still have some way to go. But our current level three diploma, coupled with our level two modern apprenticeship, and level four and five qualifications, means that the journey has begun. But it needs to be driven by the membership.

Hopefully as employees become more qualified, then individual organisations will be able to measure a tangible return on investment in having a more proficient, valued and potentially valuable workforce.

And let’s not forget that the essential ingredient to any successful learning and development strategy is the stakeholder. We therefore should not forget the importance of the student.

But equally important is our external partnerships with NOCN, our awarding organisation partner, and the Financial Skills Partnership, the sector skills council for the financial sector.

Stephen Morley, head of learning and development at the Credit Services Association