Birkbeck and Global PA Network champion the Personal Assistant profession

New course offers management skills for today’s PAs

Equipping PAs to succeed in today’s fast-changing workplaces is the aim of a new part-time study programme being offered by Birkbeck’s Department of Management from October 2013.

Masterclasses in assertiveness, social media and key management skills will be included in the course, which will be taught in the evenings and at weekends by Birkbeck and the Global PA Network in a strategic partnership aimed at addressing the shortage of customised training opportunities for PAs.

Building on Birkbeck’s mission to provide opportunity for working people and the Global PA Network’s vision to motivate and develop office professionals, the programme aims to develop and enhance the skills and understanding of existing and aspiring PAs by exploring current management thinking, practices and technology.

The Certificate of Higher Education in Management for Personal Assistants (CertHE ManPAs) will plug the gap created by the transformation of office working practices over the past decade. Topics will include the role of the executive PA; people management and diversity; leadership and team building; strategy and business planning; and managing change.

Career pathway

Programme director Dr Ian Harrison has worked closely with Rosemary Parr, founder and CEO of the Global PA Network and an associate lecturer at Birkbeck, to tailor the qualification.  He said: “The role of the PA has changed beyond recognition in recent years, with the PA becoming a vital lynchpin in organisational life. This new programme will give PAs the knowledge and skills they will need to succeed in rapidly-changing workplaces.

“The aim is to provide a challenging but supportive environment in which the PAs of the future can develop and grow. Successful completion of the CertHE ManPAs also offers PAs a progression route to degree-level study and beyond.”

Parr, former Executive PA to past Chairman of BT, Sir Christopher Bland, will deliver masterclasses on the practical aspects of working as an executive PA. She said: “I am driven by a passion to help PAs develop their careers, as I know how hard it was for me.  My career of 30 years as a PA was very chequered, and there were times when it was difficult for me to progress. There is definitely a reservoir of untapped talent in the workplace. This long-overdue programme will improve respect and career opportunities for the profession.”

Research co-authored by Rosemary Parr in 2009 showed that 75 per cent of PAs would welcome a professionally recognised PA qualification, while 80 per cent believed it would raise their status.

Further study opportunities

On successfully completing the CertHE ManPAs, students may progress to the second year of Birkbeck’s Foundation Degree in Management. Qualified applicants may also apply for admission to the second year of Birkbeck’s BA Management, BSc Business or other undergraduate degrees.

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for the course. Potential students must have work experience in a responsible position, a strong interest in the subject and a willingness to commit to the goals of lifelong learning and personal development. Learn more about the course or apply online.