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Accreditation #101

Earlier this year, the JAA launched an accreditation program – the first of its kind for the local industry. Jeweller spoke with JAA executive director Amanda Hunter to find out more.

Jeweller: Why was the program developed?
Amanda Hunter: The JAA accreditation program has been developed to further assist members in standing out in the marketplace, as individual jewellery experts and businesses adhering to the highest standards of professional practice and ethics. It’s another way to ensure that members are recognised by consumers as being leading industry professionals.

We feel it’s important to acknowledge the experience, professional standing, ability, accomplishments, contributions and qualifications of the people within the industry. We also want to make sure that those who are promoting themselves as ‘manufacturing’ jewellers and ‘master’ jewellers are appropriately qualified, which will, in turn, enhance consumer confidence.

Further to this, the JAA anticipates that in recognising members of staff and their role in helping a business to achieve accreditation, jewellery storeowners will experience increased pride and enthusiasm among sales teams.  

Who is eligible for accreditation?
Anyone employed by a JAA member – that is adhering to our Code of Practice. Seven classes of accreditation are available across four categories: jewellery consultant or jewellery specialist under the retail category; manufacturing jeweller or master jeweller under the manufacturing category; supplier representative under the supply or wholesale category; and retail outlet or trade supplier under the business category. For a business to be accredited it needs to abide by our Code of Practice, have been trading for at least three years and have a full-time manager or senior employee that is accredited.

What does the accreditation process involve?
Each class of accreditation requires the applicant to meet a set of criteria and provide supporting documentation to demonstrate their level of qualification and experience. In order to maintain accreditation status, individuals will be required to undertake continued professional development (CPD), which is based on a points system. Those involved must achieve 10 points each year to maintain accreditation; the JAA has devised a list of courses and events that have been allocated points.

After receiving feedback from the industry the JAA has also introduced a ‘grandfather’ clause to three individual accreditation classes – jewellery specialist, manufacturing jeweller and trade representative. The grandfather clause – valid to December 31, 2015 – allows those that have been involved in the industry for more than 20 years to apply without needing to provide a reference as part of the application process, though other criteria still applies. Furthermore, those that make use of the grandfather clause will only be required, on application and renewal, to have eight CPD points.

How can members promote their accreditation status?
Accredited individuals and businesses will receive a pack consisting of a variety of material including a certificate, window decal and lapel pin. Individuals will also be able to use the post-nominal letters ‘JAA’, while businesses will be identifiable on the JAA website through the retail and supplier directories.

Why did the industry exist for so long without an accreditation scheme?
Just because the industry existed without the program for a long time doesn’t mean it isn’t a good addition. The JAA needed to consult with the industry and utilise industry representatives to help pull together the detail and bring it to fruition. We felt now was a good time to do so given the co-operative relationships we have with various other associations and educational providers. These relationships allowed us to offer a program with a very collaborative approach to ongoing professional development.

What has the response been like so far?
Many members are really glad we brought this program to the implementation stage after much prior consultation. There was a lot of interest early in March after the information was distributed and the JAA team took many calls to answer questions and assist those wanting to understand more. We are now starting to receive applications and are excited to review them and start awarding our first applicants with their accredited status.

What challenges have you faced since the launch?
We are constantly receiving questions and addressing details that the industry is bringing to our attention and have an accreditation committee to assist with refining the program as required.

The major challenges – as with any program – are engagement and the fact that the resulting benefits take time. People are time-poor and there’s often a lag between a person’s interest and intent and the completion of the application process. As such, it’s up to the JAA to keep the program top of mind by increasing general awareness and promoting its benefits, while supporting our members and ensuring the process is relevant and easy to navigate. We are also committed to reviewing courses on an ongoing basis and including them in our accreditation points system.

What do you hope to achieve over the next five years?
We’re aiming for an uptake of at least 1,000 members as well as more courses and industry collaboration to further extend the program. We plan to increase consumer awareness of the scheme through a number of JAA-supported avenues such as POS material and sponsorships that will help to direct consumers to our website. Of course, the opportunity for members to verbally promote their point of difference when face-to-face with consumers is also of utmost importance.

Ultimately, we hope the program will help to nurture a jewellery industry comprising members that are proud to be working in their chosen field and committed to ongoing professional development. I want to see lots of lapel pins being worn with pride just like the CPAs do in the accounting industry! 

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