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Brush up on your management skills with new SELECT course

As the SELECT/Napier Management Certificate prepares for its 12th year, we outline the many ways it can improve your leadership skills – and hear first-hand from some of the managers who are now putting its invaluable advice into action

The joint SELECT/Napier Certificate in Management Practice has been running for 11 years – and new recruits are now being invited to join the 12th intake this September.

You don’t need any formal university qualifications to take part – if you’re in a management or supervisory position and you want to improve your knowledge and understanding of good management then this could be the programme for you.

The programme combines tutor-led workshops on various management themes, with students taking this knowledge back to work, trying out new techniques and writing about how it works in practice.

You don’t need to work for a big company or have a big team – some current students run their own businesses, while others work in small and medium-sized organisations.

The course consists of nine workshops run over a year at Select and Napier University in Edinburgh, each covering a different aspect of management, including:

  • Good management skills

  • Improving communication

  • Building great teams

  • An introduction to coaching

  • Managing change

  • Recruitment

  • Motivating staff.

Students get a chance to think about their own teams and challenges they are facing, and there are opportunities to learn from each other and take tangible ideas back to work.

The course is very practical which surprises some students, who perhaps think a university programme is all about theory and academic learning. The lecturers encourage students to share experiences and ideas, and the formal assignments inspire students to try out the things they’ve learned on their course back at work.

One successful student, James, said: “I didn’t think it would be so practical and so relevant for me. I was able to take ideas straight back and use them, which was great, and it definitely improved my management skills as a result.”

His words are echoed by some of the other people on these pages, who have also found the course extremely useful.

Further Education

The course gives you 60 university credits and successful students will be eligible to apply for further study at Edinburgh Napier University. Information on these courses and how to apply will be provided during the management course.


The total cost is £1,905 + VAT per person. An Electrical Engineering Training Foundation (EETF) grant of £1,150 per person is available for a maximum of two students per Member company, for those eligible for the grant. The EETF has provided funding to support this programme each year since it started.

Please contact Violette Fivet on 0131 445 5577 or e-mail for further information.



“It equipped me with very useful tools”

I took the course because my ambition is leading me in the direction of management, and this seemed the perfect way to start understanding the role and responsibilities required.

As the course is reflective-based, it helps you see where you are in certain aspects and allows you to judge how you can improve to make yourself a better manager. It highlights many different areas, from how you deal and react to employees, right through to employment law and even how to deal properly with any mental health issues in the workplace.

These are all areas that I had little or no knowledge of before, but they are useful tools that I now can carry forward on my journey to being a successful manager.

Neil Stout, P&A Electrical & Security Contractors, Edinburgh



“Helps to boost team morale”

I’ve found this course to be of immense value – in particular, the practice-based approach. It’s not only about theory and academic concepts; you are really challenged to apply these ideas in your workplace and with your team, and then to reflect on their utility in your real-world environment.

Not only that, reflecting on one’s own strengths and development areas as a manager has the effect of making every decision and every communication more conscious and purposeful. An example of this might be understanding the proven value and power of positive verbal feedback in a team. A manager may not have realised that they have often been slow in the past to acknowledge effort and give appreciation where it was due. Having realised this, they can begin to develop a culture of acknowledging effort in meaningful ways, significantly boosting morale and fostering good relationships within the team.

Shining the spotlight on our management styles, theories, and best practice is absolutely crucial in a world of shifting workplace attitudes. The new and unfamiliar demands and expectations of Millennials and Zillennials all but ensure that mimicking the management styles we’ve observed in days gone may not cut it.

It is often said that employees don’t leave jobs – they leave managers. This course gives you the confidence and the knowledge to manage, maintain, and build upon a strong and well-functioning team for years to come.

Nicola Jengaenga

Employment Affairs Adviser, SELECT



“Gives a structured approach”

Few managers find any time on their hands, so it’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day business issues and not take a minute to pause and think about what they’re doing, how they’re doing it and why.

However it’s just as vital for a manager to develop their skills as it is for members of their team. Managers who take part in this course benefit from both workshops, which cover a wide range of issues that all managers need to understand, and assignments that require them to put what they learned into action.

The key element to the success of those assignments is taking time to reflect on what happened. How a manager learns to manage depends on a number of things. So they might have followed an example set by a manager who they admire. They might have been buddied with an existing manager as they learned the ropes. Or they might have had to get on with it themselves and trust their instincts. All have potential benefits, but it’s equally easy to pick up bad practices or try to adapt to fit a good natural style into something less comfortable. By gaining feedback and thinking about things in context, a manager can drop these bad practices.

It might be worthwhile reclaiming some time out of your busy work schedule to think about your own practice. If you think a more structured approach would be valuable, applications are now open.

Jenny Cryans,

Training Co-ordinator, SELECT



“Practical, not just sitting in a classroom”

People are often promoted into management jobs without any preparation or training – yet the skills required to be a good electrician are different from the skills required to be a good manager.

What makes this course unique is that it’s not just about academic learning – it’s very practical. There are nine workshops throughout the year, each with a different theme. Students are then encouraged to take something that they’ve learned in those workshops and put it into practice. It’s not just sitting in a classroom and then going back and carrying on doing the same things as before; it’s transferring learning back to work.

Some participants have never been to university before, so they’re a bit anxious, thinking it’ll be very academic and they’ll have to write essays and so on. But once we get into it, they realise it’s more than that – it’s about their own learning and challenging.

As programme leader, I see students on day one right through the course and see a huge difference as their confidence and self-awareness grows. They recognise that the problems they face are similar to other people, so they learn a lot from each other. It’s a privilege to see a student take something from the workshop and put it into practice at work – it gives me a little warm glow knowing they wouldn’t have done it if they hadn’t been here.

What’s also great is when former students recommend it to their co-workers. Someone the other day said: “I’ve recommend this course to two other people in my office,” so it’s clearly been building up through word of mouth. The feedback we get from the participants is fantastic – it’s extremely satisfying to know that people value it so much.

Diane Peebles,

Programme Leader



“We’re all learning from each other”

I’m currently doing the course and have found it excellent. The great thing is that it’s practice-based learning, so on Tuesday you’re at a lecture and on Wednesday you’re putting the things you’ve just learned into action.

So it’s all fresh in your mind.

I started the programme because I’m increasingly doing more HR tasks and dealing with people. I needed to learn procedure and protocol to deal with potentially awkward issues, and that’s exactly what the course has given me.

The networking we do as a class also helps. I’m sitting with guys from massive companies, but when you speak to them you realise we have the same challenges. So you learn from each other – in fact you pick up as much when you’re having lunch as you do when you’re taking notes.

I’d definitely recommend the course to other Members – it really makes you aware of diversity in the industry and how to go about things properly. One thing we’ve adopted is anonymising our application forms, so there’s nothing to influence any decision, whether it be school, surname or gender. Instead, you just look at someone’s profile and qualifications alone.

Another thing we’ve implemented is a mental health policy and work group. We’ve sat down a couple of times now and the guys seem to get a lot out of it – it opens up conversation and makes a difference. Things like this help our staff see that we’re thinking about their welfare and wellbeing. Anything that’s helps boost morale and make people work better helps economically in the long run too.

Alasdair Noble,

John Noble Electrical Contractors, Edinburgh

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