#ChooseNCTJ: "In order to do my job sufficiently I needed shorthand and the diploma"

University of Sheffield student Damian Shepherd, who is studying MA Journalism, said his previous journalism degree did not equip him with the right skills for the job.

The 23-year-old, from Brighton, studied towards a BA in journalism on a course which is not accredited by the NCTJ.

Although the course offered students the option of entering NCTJ exams, the NCTJ diploma modules – particularly shorthand - were not a priority, according to Damian.

It was when he was carrying out work experience with the Sheffield Star, that he realised his lack of shorthand training meant he couldn’t take down an accurate note.

He said: “They said at the start of the course that it wasn’t NCTJ-accredited, but I thought what does it matter?

“They said they could offer NCTJ exams, but didn’t put as much emphasis on them.

“In reality, shorthand – which is one of the main things you need – was optional and not encouraged.

“When I was doing work experience at the Sheffield Star, I did an interview with a shopkeeper who had been burgled, and I was not able to take down what he was saying accurately enough.

“I realised that in order to do my job sufficiently, I needed shorthand and the diploma in general.

“Now I’m at The University of Sheffield, I do shorthand lessons every morning at 8.30am.”

Damian, who received a financial bursary from the Journalism Diversity Fund which enabled him to study at The University of Sheffield, said prospective university students need to do the research into BA journalism degrees and the benefits of NCTJ accreditation.

He said: “I would say go for an NCTJ-accredited course straight away. I would have preferred to get an NCTJ-accredited degree in hindsight.

“Make sure you are properly educated on how important it is to get the diploma. Get all the information and make the right decision for yourselves.

After graduation, Damian aspires to work in local and regional newspapers before moving to the nationals.

Find out more about NCTJ-accredited degrees and other types of diploma courses here.