The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising is to introduce professional qualifications to which it hopes the nation’s ad agencies will aspire.

Announced Tuesday by the IPA’s incoming president Stephen Woodford, there will be two levels of competency …

1. Certificate – granted after one year in the business and designed to confirm that new entrants to the industry have acquired a core base of knowledge, whatever discipline they are working in (from writing a good brief to evaluating effectiveness).

2. Diploma – for those who have graduated to management level and demonstrate the potential to achieve director status. Such people will have had at least three years experience in the business.

Asked by The Times if he thought the need to sit an examination might offend delicate advertising egos, Woodward responded: “If you spend ten, 20, 30 years in the business, it’s worth learning more about it. If you go into banking, you’d expect to learn more about the business. Why should advertising be any different?”

Bill Muirhead, a partner in M&C Saatchi, agreed: “This is a brilliant idea, which is long overdue. I think this will make us more professional.”

Campaign magazine associate editor John Tylee also approves of the initiative: “At one time, when you came into the industry, you were able to get a good overview,” he said. “In recent years, the industry has fragmented. People are getting too much of a blinkered vision.”

The IPA will be developing comprehensive online training modules to encourage maximum take-up and that participation costs are as low as possible.

Data sourced from: IPA Online and The Times (UK); additional content by WARC staff